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Through a vocabulary of poetic-conceptual forms, N S Harsha marries political and social references to popular traditional art forms, and with these, he makes reference to global issues. His often large-format and extremely detailed paintings illustrate the microcosms of life in India, whereby he connects traditional elements, i.e., ritual representations, with images from the international press. Harsha is known as much for his figurative paintings and drawings as his site-specific and communal projects, which often arise out of collaborations with schools and children. In „Ambitions and Dreams“ (2005) he placed pieces of white cloth, which in form resemble either a sprouting plant or a flickering flame, on a dusty hillside. He then positioned school children as if lining up for a parade, stiff as statues in front of each of these pieces of cloth. Thereby Harsha has created a hypnotic image in which the standstill has been charged with energy and the desires and wishes of the children are put into a meaningful relationship with their surroundings.

Well-known are Harsha’s large-format paintings which are often populated by small individual figures that lean in perspective and style towards that of Indian miniature painting. „Spot an Innocent Civilian“ (2009) depicts an endless series of people with halos in a continuous pattern that pours out beyond the picture’s frame.They let themselves be inspired yet— are there indications as to who are the innocents? People from every walk of life in India stand side by side here, as if united as one figure, and despite the halos, seem about to burst asunder: the caricature of a suicide bomber whose bomb has just exploded.

Plurality and repetition are the pervasive methods of Harsha’s work. For the Singapor Biennale, in a work titled „Cosmic Orphans“ (2006) he covered the entire roof of a Sri Krishnan Temple with a painting of sleeping figures, which visitors could gaze down upon from a window, protected, as these „orphans“ were, from the temple walls. This roof reminded one of homeless people throughout the world and not just in India.

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