This solo exhibition by the renowned Indian artist NS Harsha features new and recent works, including the major installation Reclaiming the Inner Space.
One of the most acclaimed artists of his generation, NS Harsha draws on a broad spectrum of Indian painting traditions and popular arts, as well as the western canon, to create quietly philosophical works that reflect on structures, borders and barriers as a series of ever-shifting concepts.
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A focal point of this exhibition is the major work Reclaiming the Inner Space, 2017. This three-dimensional, wall-mounted work features a ‘herd’ of approximately 1400 hand-carved wooden elephants that appear to roam a plain made from recycled cardboard packaging, flattened and attached to acrylic mirror. While the elephants refer to the ornaments that one might find in Indian souvenir shops, they also recall the elephant processions of Dasara festivities in Mysore, the artist’s home, and elsewhere, celebrated at the end of Navratri each year.
Collected from various sources, including recycling facilities and the artist’s friends and family, the cardboard packaging is attached face-down to the mirror, its printed graphics and logos readable only, up close, in reflection. The unprinted sides of the packaging, meanwhile, have been partially covered with an explosive trail of dark paint which Harsha has embellished with a detailed constellation of stars and planets. Interweaving local and global points of reference, Reclaiming the Inner Space underscores a sense of interconnectedness that characterises much of Harsha’s art. Here, the changing consumer habits, cultural customs and labour patterns of his local neighbourhood are aligned with broader socio-political narratives of modernisation, mass-production and our changing relationship to nature.
Other works on view include a number of exquisitely rendered new paintings. While storytelling endures at the heart of Harsha’s practice, linear narrative remains absent from the compositions of his recent canvases. Instead, through gentle humour and dreamlike grace, he makes quietly philosophical enquiries into the complex economic and cultural realities of contemporary life.
About the artist
Born in 1969, NS Harsha lives and works in Mysore, India. He was a recipient of the prestigious DAAD Scholarship in 2012, and was awarded the Artes Mundi Prize in 2008. Solo exhibitions and projects have taken place at international venues including Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea (2018); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2017); the Dallas Museum of Art (2015–2016); DAAD, as part of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program (2012–2013); INIVA, London (2009); and at Maison Hermes Tokyo (2008). Harsha’s work has featured in group exhibitions including the 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018); the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India (2014); Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art (2013); Dojima Biennial, Osaka (2013); Adelaide International Biennial (2012); Asian Art Museum, San Francisco (2012); the Yokohama Triennial (2011) and the Bienal de Sao Paulo (2010). He was also a participant in the major touring exhibition Indian Highway, which was staged at the Serpentine Gallery, London (2008); Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo (2009); Herning Art Museum, Denmark (2010); Musée d’Art Contemporain, Lyon (2011); MAXXI, Rome (2011–12).NS Harsha, Installation view, Victoria Miro Gallery I, 16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW 11 April - 18 May 2019 © NS Harsha. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice