Hyderabad artist Harsha Durugadda’s sculpture for Sotheby’s online auction

Harsha Durugadda’s sculpture Conversations has been selected for Boundless Spaces: The Possibilities of Burning Man online auction

Updated - September 23, 2021 11:43 am IST

Published - September 22, 2021 04:41 pm IST



Hyderabad artist Harsha Durugadda’s sculpture Conversation has been selected to be part of Boundless Space: The Possibilities of Burning Man an online charity auction organised by Sotheby’s and Burning Man Project. Bidding opens on September 30 and closes on October 8. Jayeti Bhattacharya and Shilo Shiv Suleman are the other Indian artists whose works have been chosen for the auction.

Harsha’s sculptures have earned him international recognition. His installation Column of Sound, exploring the visual dynamics of an audio wave, clinched him the Rio Tinto Sculpture Award at the 2017 Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe exhibition in Australia. An installation titled Selfish Love won him the Biafarin Award at NordArt 2018 in Germany.

The selection for Boundless Space is a new feather in his cap. The opportunity came through Emergent Art Space, a non-profit organisation in Portland, USA, where he had exhibited in 2013. “Emergent Art Space suggested my work for Boundless Space. The online auction is raising funds for the Burning Man Project and support Burning Man Arts and Civic Engagement programmes. Earlier, Burning Man was not known for its diversity. This time, the focus is on inclusivity,” says Harsha.

Sotheby’s website mentions the Burning Man Project’s commitment to diversity and adds that the organisation is leveraging Sotheby’s platform to foster new relationships by inviting work by Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Colour (BIPOC) artists through this auction.

Conversation with self

The sculpture Conversation was designed by Harsha in 2019 when he held a solo exhibition at Kalakriti art gallery, Hyderabad. Two juliflora wooden heads placed on two ends of a semicircle tyre, is Harsha’s attempt to focus on the idea of ‘conversation with self’. “I wanted to look beyond conversation as a sound or audio byte and instead, focus on conversations we have with ourselves.” He believes that art can be a tool to challenge perceptions. “For instance, the concept of virtual world was an idea long before it became reality,” he says, referring to a scene from the iconic Telugu film Maya Bazar (1957) where Savitri gazes into a tablet-like structure to see Abhimanyu (Akkineni Nageswara Rao).

The selection of Conversation for Boundless Space, he hopes, will help him exhibit at the Burning Man event shortly and further his quest to make public art installations.

Modernist approach

Harsha was born in Kurnool, raised in Hyderabad and studied Art and Aesthetics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He wanted to think beyond the confines of showcasing within the art gallery premises: “I was fascinated by traditional temple art and architecture. They did so much without the technological innovations we have. I wanted to step away from the rat race of looking at art as a conventional business and take a modernist, avant-garde approach.”

He worked on a few large-scale installations in Delhi and it dawned on him that many well-known galleries did not have space to exhibit them. He then began to apply to international events and got selected for Sculpture by the Sea and NordArt.

Things are changing today, he points out, in the context of biennales and art fairs encouraging artists to think out of the box: “Some of my colleagues in Baroda have begun to establish their own studios that are different from galleries inside homes. We need to have Government and private entities working together to convert old industrial spaces into zones where public art can be displayed.”

Harsha’s sculpture studio in Chilkur in the outskirts of Hyderabad was set up in late 2020. His interest in sustainable farming also led him to open Oorna Permaculture Farm where he occasionally conducts workshops on sustainable farming and housing practices: “I intend to apply mindfulness to art and life.”

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