NS Harsha

NS Harsh, Sky Gazers, 2010. Photograph by Thierry Bal

NS Harsh, Sky Gazers, 2010. Photograph by Thierry Bal

With his paintings, site-specific installations and community-based activities, NS Harsha (b.1969, India) makes social and political commentaries on a range of issues surrounding globalisation, such as migrant labour, media representation and changing notions of cultural heritage.

Drawing on Indian craft and painting traditions as well as popular culture, Harsha depicts scenes of everyday life in rural India alongside images of world events. In so doing, his work calls into question the divergence of terms such as ‘local’ and ‘global’, ‘specific’ and ‘universal’, suggesting, for example, that ‘the global is always already located within the local imagination’.

Harsha’s sensitive, whimsical and frequently humorous works draw out the interrelations between individual and collective experience, seeking an empathetic engagement with the concerns and anxieties of human existence in a fast-changing world. Particularly in his environments and installations, the artist invites the viewer inside the work, transcending the notion of physical participation and proactively aiming at his/her emotional involvement. The collective ‘Us’ addressed by Harsha is not a spectacle to look at, but a flow to dive into.

The installation devised for Touched was exemplary of this. The separation between the viewer and the viewed was challenged by the audience being integrated with the image. By entering a space constellated by a multitude of star-gazers, one was invited to second their meditative and lyric observation of an imaginary sky. In so doing, the ‘I’ became ‘We’ and the expression of individual wishes and desires was transformed into a communal act. The projection of our expectations and hopes was reflected by a mirrored ceiling, which suggested that whatever happens in future – rather than being dictated by faith, destiny or other uncontrollable forces – mainly lied in our own hands.

Although we all experience, at those times when our sense of inadequacy and finite capacity are most evident, a similar fascination for spirituality, the answer to our uncertainties (the artist seems to suggest) cannot be found anywhere but in the reflection of our own gaze, acting as a gate open to the intimacy of ourselves.

NS Harsha at Liverpool Biennial 2010

Sky Gazers
, 2010
16 painted wood boards (each board 243.7 x 121.8cm), mylar panels
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2010
Exhibited at 52 Renshaw Street