Visual chants: Prabhu Harsoor

The artist brings together disparate elements, including objects such as bulbs and flowers, which together evoke a sense of connectedness

Prabhu Harsoor's world is one in which different traditions and time collide, merge and reform. In his early works, he brought together elements from diverse sources such as temple sculptures, traditional painting, leather and string puppets, folk paintings and sculptures; folk dance, performances and rituals; inscriptions and language. They blend into a contemporary language held by their linearity, flat treatment and tightly controlled colour schemes. In these works, individual images do not hold specific meaning but together, they evoke a sense of connectedness with the past. In the process of bringing together disparate elements, he imposes his own sense of stylisation and structure on them without which it would end up being chaotic.

In the next phase, instead of traditional and folk imagery, banal objects such as bulb, loudspeakers or flowers appear to suggest voices. These are followed by works that establish a connection between language and seed. The premise of these works possibly comes from the word bijakshara (root word) used in chants and rituals. In tantric traditions, these words are believed to have the power to awaken or alter inner states when repeated. The suggestion of yantras and horoscope grids add to this feeling. Though the letters and words used by Harsoor have no connection to yantras directly, they mimic such practices visually. In the last phase, his works have become more abstract in the sense that recognisable forms melt and morph. One cannot identify central forms in these works. They imply mental states. The remnants of bijaksharas, which has continued from earlier works, surround them with resonating forms. Recognisable forms are dissolved here in rhythmic repetition of visual chants.

Harsoor has a post-graduate degree in fine arts and has shown his works in various cities in India, as well as in the UK, France, Thailand and Canada. He has won awards from the Lalita Kala Academy and the Bombay Art Society. He lives and works in Tumkur, Karnataka.

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