NS Harsha’s exhibition at Mori Art Museum

by Shilpa Raina
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At the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, a monumental installation, ‘Nations’ by artist NS Harsha is being hosted as part of his mid-career retrospective, titled, “NS Harsha: Charming Journey” that celebrates  25 glorious years of his artistic journey . Even though the work, created using 193 sewing machines, was made in 2007, the thought behind this concept is resonates with contemporary times. These machines are overlaid with calico painted flags, signifying the countries that make up the United Nations are connected by different coloured threads.
Webp.net-compress-image (1)The artist creates a vision of a world divided by flags and socio-cultural and economic lines. It raises issues of labour outsourcing, migration and the forces of global markets. And the use of cloth recalls the pivotal role of clothing in the national struggle for Independence of India.
The Mysuru-based artist is known for drawing inspiration from local surroundings and creating works that try to encompass and address issues that are universal in nature. Starting from exploring relationships between humans and his regions flora and fauna, he has used several techniques like drawing, sculptures, installations and workshops to reflect the shifting world.
Elaborating on how this grand exhibition came through, he says, “Chief curator of the museum, Mami Kataoka proposed this show about 3 yearsago. Mami focused on the idea of single location (Mysuru) and its relationship withthe idea of nation and global realities. For me, after working for two decades this is agreat opportunity to look back and observe the journey.”
Harsha’s works draw attention to the whimsical as well as to the tragic entanglement of life. According to Mami, the exhibition focuses on the development of his practice while encompassing his major works from 1995 through 2016.
Webp.net-compress-image (2)“The word journey of the exhibition title hints not only at the life of the artist himself, but also at various other journeys including the political and economic development of India, the parallel changes in different communities, as well as the changes observable in the daily lives of people, the journey back and forth between the traditional and the contemporary, and the journey form a biological scientific worldview to an astronomical or cosmic scale,” says Mami.
Apart from his works displayed at the exhibition that ends on June 11, he also held a workshop for children which Harsha himself designed. This engagement has been an extension of artistic practice as he has been designing community project for children since ‘90s.  “Inspired by Tokyo night view, I created a new workshop titled‘Night landscape’. The focus of this workshop was to bring out children onto the streets of Tokyo to experience the night landscape,” he concludes.

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