Sunday, August 25, 2013

A chronicler of contemporary times

Mostly loaded with social or political commentary, N. S. Harsha’s oeuvre explores the close relationship that art shares with contemporary cultural representation and otherwise.  At times, he looks to combine ubiquitous objects with sites-specific paintings on walls or floors in order to engage with the exhibition space.

The sensitive artist brings to our notice the whimsical, slightly absurd as much as the poignant, akin to a philosopher without getting judgmental. In a way, he prompts viewers to reflect on the world around. A clever interplay of text, words and symbols, his compositions are as much influenced by comic book illustrations, Bazaar Art, simultaneously drawing inspiration from popular street and poster art. In the process, he unleashes a powerful political commentary within a fascinating framework of Indian miniature, the modern narrative tradition of his home country, its philosophical concepts and popular art.

A skilled storyteller, who often resorts to pointed, vivacious visuals, this celebrated contemporary Indian artist combines everyday life from his immediate milieu with the complex global scenario. The fabulous figurative and narrative depictions are extracted out of his own experiences as well as are chalked out of images and photographs culled from mass media. He invariably focuses on issues related to economics, the global marketplace, consumerism as well as cultural heritage. He puts his practice in local context, evolving cultural traditions and the shifting world order, to engage with an ever broadening realm.

The acclaimed artist during his first solo in London, entitled ‘Picking through the Rubble’, unveiled a series of paintings and an installation work around ideas of the absurd and meaninglessness. A curatorial note to the show elaborated: “He has always been interested in art and its relationship with cultural representation and misrepresentation, and therefore location - whether geographical, political, social or cultural - plays an essential role. Taking on the challenge of representing on canvas the absurd within human nature, the artist here furthers his exploration of humanity en masse, with an underlying sensitivity for the individual as well as the group.”

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