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Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Existential, a fine art and photography exhibition handling the theme of butterflies (titled ‘Butterflies’) opened in Cartoon Art Gallery, Dubai, in mid-Feb. The exhibition had a very short life span, like its subject. But it needs a holistic treatment, since it is the only one of its kind that has so far dealt with the winged wonders - being lost to the real world too now, due to rapid urbanisation.
The exhibition showcased selected works of IB Radhika Rani, an artist from India (who was on a short visit to the Emirates) and UAE based Nature photographer, Manu Reghurajan.
The exhibition was all about butterflies. “Butterflies”, said the artists, “impart a sense of freedom in us as they unfold and emerge from their chrysalis before flying away to freedom and liberty.
“The metamorphosis that they undergo in their short lifespans depict the toughness of life’s existence in Nature itself. Is it possible for any form of life to exist by its own? Never! It needs support from the environment and the ecosystem to complete its lifecycle”.
Therefore, they point out, the evolution of the butterfly has been parallel to the growth of flowering plants, since the Cretaceous Period itself. Human interference, they add, has become a threat to planet Earth, adversely effecting its eco balance, which needs urgent attention before it is too late.
“It is time for us to rethink and undo our negative imprints on this blue marble of a planet (as seen from space) and remind ourselves that life is all about coexistence”, they say.
Rani exhibited fifteen paintings, in acrylic on canvas, showing fifteen butterflies from her home garden in Kerala State, India. Alongside, she also presented her poems. It was her ninth solo exhibition and the first in Dubai.
Reghurajan has won many awards and international distinctions for his Nature images from the UAE. He exhibited sixteen photos of butterflies, both from India and the UAE.
Retd. Lt. Colonel of Dubai Police and Past President of Toastmasters International, Mohammed Murad, inaugurated the exhibition by watering a Dahlia plant, underlining the necessity of protecting the environment. Sultana Kasim, prominent UAE artist, was guest of honour.
Rani and Reghurajan spoke to Gulf Today on their show. Rani spoke first
What got you interested in painting and Art?
I always wanted to do painting from a young age. In 2009, I decided to take it seriously and started off, thinking that I could exhibit my pictures one day. Then came my exhibition in 2014, when I decided to use colours and work in acrylic on canvas. (I was working in pen and paper till then).
After that, I started doing paintings series, and till date, have done four of them. This is the fourth, about butterflies.
Your statement about the exhibition?
It is all about butterflies! My home State Kerala, has about 332 species of butterflies. And as luck would have it, from the largest butterfly, the southern birdwing, to the smaller grass jewels, they were all there, in and around my house!
As of now, I have about 400 images of butterflies. Photographing these beauties has led me to gain more knowledge about them and about their host plants around my house.
All this also led me to do my first painting, which was about the Red Pierrot butterfly. After that, I thought of doing more paintings, taking the butterfly as a theme. I chose about fifteen butterflies from the list of pictures I had taken. I want to show how important is the existence of these butterflies in Nature.
Why did you choose Dubai to show your works?
Last year, I was in Dubai and was overwhelmed to see how the government here is trying to grow greenery. Dubai Government shows how it is possible in every condition to bring Nature into our daily lives, and to protect the flora and fauna we are blessed with on this planet.
Also, because of the large number of art aficionados from all around the world we have in Dubai, we thought it the apt place for the exhibition.
Here is what Reghurajan said
What do you want to say about your exhibition?
As a passionate Nature photographer, this is a dream come true, because of two reasons. First, the butterfly is my most favourite subject in photography.
They are indeed flying flowers! Even before I started looking at them through my lens, I enjoyed watching them. To conduct an exhibition with the best from my collection of butterfly images, both from India as well as the UAE, has been in my mind for a long time.
Second, it is a great opportunity to exhibit my photographs along with the butterfly paintings of the talented artist IB Radhika Rani from India.
What do you think the exhibition will do for you?
The exhibition is an opportunity to present my work to a wider audience and receive feedback, positive or negative. Particularly, I wanted to show the beauty of these tiny beings and increase the awareness among people to conserve the environment in which they live. Every tiny species in this world is part of Nature, just as we are, and their right to exist needs be respected.
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