Harsha Durugadda: City-based artist bags TAF award 

The artist’s innovative approach to sculpting has gained him much recognition, and his recent win at TAF is a well-deserved accolade 

Chokita Paul Published :  17th March 2023 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  17th March 2023 12:00 AM


Harsha Durugadda, an emerging artist from the city, has recently been a title holder at The Arts Family (TAF) in London for his exceptional contemporary sculptures. Harsha’s work showcases an unconventional fusion of modern and traditional elements, resulting in a distinctive style that is entirely his own. He has the artistic aptitude to create gestural sculptures that capture the essence of his subjects with striking detail and fluidity. His sculptures convey a sense of motion while also evoking a powerful response from viewers. His innovative approach to sculpting has made him a standout in the contemporary art world, and his recent win at TAF is a testament to his dexterity.

You have just been the 1st-place winner at The Arts Family (TAF), London as an emerging artist from South Asia. How has your artistic voice evolved over the past couple of years?
I’ve developed a more sophisticated material palette using a method of layering wood. I’m attempting to learn more about the decisions I make every day and how they impact the practice as a whole. I have a lot more inquiries both before and after a sculpture is created.

Do tell us a little bit about your art which earned you the Emerging Artist Award South Asia 2023 at TAF. How do you express yourself best through sculptures?
I’ve entered three particular sculptures that, despite being made of the same medium, have different aesthetics. The pieces are called Tensor Field, Mirage, and Sound of Rain. Even while each piece is utterly unique, they are all connected by a shared attribute. My work reflects my lifestyle, thoughts, and ideologies in their entirety. For instance, the sculpture Sound of Rain attempts to visually represent the sound of the first raindrop that falls on the ground, which has only happened since I moved from the city to a farm. I’m attempting to provide the audience with a different, more varied sensory and olfactory experience.

You are a multidisciplinary artist specialising in sculptures and performance art. What is the importance of the former in art history?
Contemporary sculptures, as we understand them, are quite removed from their architectural contexts and instead provide an aesthetic or political context. This is a significant change from the traditional sculpture, which was integrated into the architecture. It was impossible to tell where sculpture or architectural design ended or vice versa. In relation to the readymade sculptures by Marcel Duchamp or the enormous steel sculptures by Richard Serra, modern sculpture plays a crucial part in constantly advancing the history of art. Contemporary sculptors in India, like Subodh Gupta and LN Tallur Musology, are giving our own history and culture new vernacular settings through their hefty stone sculptures and stainless-steel utensil sculptures, respectively. Hence making room for newer artists to move on.

Your body of work feels quite gestural to us. Do you incorporate the art movements of Surrealism and Cubism in your practice?
I’m mimicking the gestural movement that goes into a wasp’s nest construction, which is also incredibly functional and stable. I’m even tracing the layers that are visible in an aesthetically beautiful wasp’s nest. I intentionally steer clear of these well-established art movements since my practice is fueled by a similar rebellious spirit. Surrealism and cubism do not in any way relate to my work, and I believe that they were at the time a departure from the isms of the time. In an effort to develop a visual language that does not adhere to any existing art movements or schools, I am making an effort to deviate from as many established visual languages as possible. 

Do walk us through your creative process.
My creative process isn’t always chronological because I’ll sometimes have a clear idea in mind that I want to illustrate before I begin doing drawings or a maquette. I explore materials and fabrication techniques that are most appropriate for the sculpture starting with this scale model. Before I start, I scale the sculpture and conceptualize it using digital modelling tools. The material determines the steps taken and the tools required; for example, if the material is metal, welding, wood, carving, etc. Several platforms can be mixed together at times, which presents additional integration problems. My most recent pieces, which are made of crafted wood, begin with various thin profiles that are sliced and put together to form a rough form that is then carved. Many anomalies really characterize the sculpture, and I like to embrace them and include them in the piece.

Lastly, are there any upcoming projects you are working on?
I’m working on two group shows right now, one in Mumbai and one in Delhi. I’m also anticipating an exhibition with the Manuel Zoia Gallery in Milan towards the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024. 

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Twitter: @PaulChokita