Wings & Plume – Group Show – Curated by Prayag Shukla

Birds and butterflies are two marvels of nature; with wings and colours—exalting a certain freedom of expression through their untrammeled and unguided frolicking in the lap of nature. Whether in flight on wings or at rest, they have fascinated artists for ages and swooped into their practices. While birds make a fine spectacle with their fluttering wings, vivid plumage, and sweet songs which are nothing short of a sensory feast; butterflies, flittering about in an aerial dance among the flowers, moving with their bright, little specks of colours, make our environs richer.   

Their forms, images need to be created afresh in each generation and celebrated. More so in our times when their numbers in terms of species are dwindling, and we need to focus on their plight as well. 

With this in mind I curated a show on the theme of Butterflies in 2009 for Gallery Art & Soul, Mumbai; in which many younger artists had also participated, and on the strength of their profound and sensitive works, the show was much liked. Since then I have always harbored the idea of having a show on the theme of Birds also, and am happy that the idea was supported again by Gallery Art & Soul. 

In this show we have included some outstanding paintings by senior as well as younger artists. And knowing about the miniature traditions, we have mounted works by well-known miniature artists of contemporary times, Mahaveer Swami, from Bikaner, Lakshmi Krishnamurthy from Chennai, and also works from folk and tribal artists, to give the show a ‘complete picture’, in terms of the birds’ images not only being painted by contemporary urban artists but also getting formed and transformed by artists representing a host of different traditions. We feel happy and proud, that the participating artists have deeply and emotively supported our concept and have given us their best.  

In the show, the works by late Devki Nandan Sharma, one of the first disciples of Nandalan Bose, needs a special mention. Throughout his life he painted mostly birds, in great numbers, while residing and teaching at Banasthali, Rajasthan. And I can never forget a day in his company at Banasthali seeing the works of great virtuosity and aesthetic feel. 

The Bird-themed show is an eclectic blend—featuring works of senior artists and also of many young ones, representing a plethora of different approaches, styles, perspectives with the concerted efforts of bringing the chosen subject to the fore— much like a flock of birds of different feathers singing harmoniously. 

In this regard, who can forget the series of paintings done by celebrated artist and art thinker J Swaminathan? In his works, the image of the bird gets a rare treatment and meaning, which could not have been conveyed with any other image.  

We also feel, that in this show, the way the lines, and colours both have been used to create images is itself something worth noting and is inspiring. For giving us the works which are visually sensitizing, meaningful in their intent, and substance; we would like to thank all the participating artists and art lovers who gave wings to this venture of ours. 

Prayag Shukla