Artes Mundi 2008: NS Harsha

Detail from We come, we eat and we sleep (panel 1) (1991-2001)

Last updated: 11 December 2008

Indian artist NS Harsha won the third Artes Mundi prize in 2008. He is best known for his miniatures, large scale installations and community projects.

His work reveals a political commentary within a framework of Indian miniature painting, the modern Indian narrative tradition and popular art.

The figures in Harsha's delicate, sly and playful world are almost invariably focused on an event, animated by a mutual curiosity, pointing out something that is odd, incongruous or comically strange. For the viewer the wit resides as much in the scale of the depictions as it does in the finely summarised telling detail of the vignette.

Harsha's oeuvre includes painting, large scale installations and community projects. In his recent work Cosmic Orphans (2006) a site-specific painting installation at the Sri Krishnan Temple created for the Singapore Biennale, Harsha covered the entire surface of the rooftop above the inner sanctum and the floor surrounding the temple's tower with paintings of sleeping figures.

Painted directly onto the floor using flat colours, the figures occupy a space not normally associated with traditional painting - their displacement provoking the audience to consider what is permitted and forbidden in relation to where they tread in the temple.

Born in 1969, Harsha lives and works in Mysore, India. He studied painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda (1995). Since then he has taken part in a variety of collaborative projects and exhibitions internationally including the Singapore Biennale 2006; the 2nd Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial 2002 and the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Arts, Australia 1999.

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