Harsh Nambiar

Harsh Nambiar (b. 1989) is a painter who lives and works in New Delhi, India. Working primarily with oil, his canvases construct a world of presentiment. In works scaling from the minor to monumental, deliberate strokes define lands which court rabid mystery, an era of unruly magic and portentous journeys. The weight of an atemporal knowledge shrouds the atmosphere where we encounter solitary figures. A vocabulary in equal parts eschatological and fantastic, these canvases transport us to a plane where imagination and history intersect, reverberating with mythopoetic echoes.

Inspired by altarpieces and illuminations in the traditions of Romanesque and Gothic painting, Harsh sustains the tension between enchantment and the uncanny. In a series of portraits sized such that they could be mirrors or windows, understood not as utilitarian surfaces of reflection or exposure but as liminal spaces for scrying, we find beings imbued with a chimerical aura—an admixture of gaunt flesh and soft ether, emerging from or arriving at serpentine, spare landscapes. They spark in us the impulse to identify their nature or purpose, their archetypes in legends and scriptures. They are adorned in stark vestments that recall the silhouettes of chivalric knights and doomed saints, of scheming regents and melancholic seers. Harsh attends to the colours of each portrait with immense fortitude, using saturation and hue as fabulatory tools that can suggest temperament or narrative, and yet withhold the finality of disclosure. Striking ribbons of light leave trails and erupt into stars upon sombre visages, ornate forms glint with the glow of revelation. There is metal, terra and heavens, welded by the gravity of time which is expectant, swelling outward beyond the cartography of the modern into the orbit of preternatural power. Resisting the immediacy of meaning, the contemplation of these paintings invites a recognition of and devotion to that which may remain always partly unknowable. They are neither allegories nor fables, but visitations imparting brief, wondrous and indelible traces on the soul of the viewer.