The power of love is such that it can make ‘one little room an everywhere’, the poet John Donne wrote. Standing inside the Victoria Miro gallery in north London two weeks ago, I remembered this line in another context. It was art, rather than love (some may say the two aren’t that different), that created the illusion of a universe being held within the four walls of the white cube.
Artist NS Harsha, who has a show at the gallery till May 18th, is a conjurer, gifted with a talent for evoking many worlds within one. Born in 1969, he lives and works in Mysore, in the southern state of Karnataka, which has inspired one of the most vividly imagined microcosms in the history of literature: RK Narayan’s Malgudi. Like the writer who bestowed dignity to the ordinary and unremarkable, Harsha too transports everyday scenes, people in the streets or objects found amidst the jilted squalor of life to a context that is global, though not shorn of its local specificities. Over the last two decades, he has shown his work across the world, from Asia to Europe to the US.
Image: NS Harsha, Smears to weave her everyday, 2019