NS Harsha: ‘I am like a cook. I love to make a dish, offer it to the people, and wait for a reaction’. By Harry Thorne.
The Indian artist NS Harsha on how his latest paintings embody the notion of ascent, an idea he says has been hijacked by religion, why he prefers flatness to perspective, and why he has a duty to be mad.
If you read about Mysore-based artist NS Harsha (b1969), you will learn that his intricate paintings are founded within ancient Indian custom. You will learn that he has revitalised the tradition of the Indian miniature, and you will learn that he is reassembling icons of Hinduism in a contemporary setting in order to instigate a certain revaluation. If you talk to him, however, he will tell you that this is not the case.
Although, as one would expect, Harsha’s exposure to Indian culture has left him with a reverence for traditional values, he is not heavily indebted to any specific ritual or ceremony, nor is he interested in the imposition of religion on the masses. In fact, he is an artist who admires minimalist abstraction, draws reference from Japanese manga, and entertains a certain irritation at the manner in which religion has claimed a monopoly over a number of qualities inherent to the human condition.
One such quality is ascent, an idea that Harsha considers to be as significant to the drive for modernity as it is to the steadfast tenets of religion. It is to our ceaseless pursuits of ascent, he says, that we are kept in momentum, and it is in this belief that Moving Upward, Harsha’s first solo exhibition at Victoria Miro’s Mayfair gallery in London, is founded...