NS Harsha

NS Harsha draws on the tradition of miniature painting to create luminous works that reflect on geopolitical order. In exquisitely rendered paintings, works on paper, wall and floor works, sculptures, site-specific installations and public projects, the Indian artist examines structures, borders and barriers as a series of ever-shifting concepts, alluding to an interconnectedness that compels the viewer to consider their relationship to the art work as part of a wider conversation about power, spectatorship and control.

Harsha's work is at once concerned with matters micro and macro. While storytelling is at the heart of his practice, strands of personal biography entwine with shared narratives and broader socio-political scenarios. Many of Harsha's best-known works are concerned with the politics of labour. The installation Nations, (2007) features 192 sewing machines that appear in the process of creating or repairing flags (one for each member of the United Nations), drawing parallels between human labour and nation building. The painting A macro economic dispute on price band of Rs 30 to 60 per day (2004) depicts rows of farmers and businessmen ankle-deep in a paddy field. The image is a clear allusion to the dynamics of emerging economies, and their human cost, yet Harsha's treatment of his subject matter is full of temporal shifts, ambiguities and art historical references that guard against too reductive an interpretation.

It is this weaving of elements that lends Harsha's work a visual richness and generosity of spirit. This spills over into public projects, such as his Bridge Paintings, a restoration project in northern India, which was created in collaboration with local schoolchildren. Harsha's work may function in part as social commentary but at its heart it is playful and poetic.

Born in 1969, NS Harsha lives and works in Mysore, India. He was a recipient of the prestigious DAAD Scholarship in 2012. He was also awarded the Artes Mundi Prize in 2008. Harsha has taken part in a variety of collaborative projects and exhibitions internationally. He has had solo presentations at INIVA, London (2009), and at Maison Hermes Tokyo (2008), and has been included in various group exhibitions, including the 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) and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2012).

Why, 2014
Acrylic on canvas, 61 x 86 cm 24 1/8 x 33 7/8 in