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Youth icon: Artist Harsha Nagaraj

The beauty of capturing rare scenes and events in our day-to-day life depends on how we look at the simplest of things in a creative way and stay focused on the subject under a particular time-frame.  Here is one such artist Harsha Nagaraj who has an in-depth vision on understanding the minutest of sequences whether it is art, culture, music concert or any traditional form of performing arts.

His genre of documentation of events is completely unique which explores the form of illustration. The artist’s spot sketching strokes adds various sequences under one frame to project most of the significant scenes and movements from a event that makes a rare sequence memorable and also, communicates effectively than a photograph.

The way Nagaraj looks at the numerous scenes and subjects in the scene by spot sketching is the result of a polymer engineering graduate becoming a filmmaker, illustrator, graphic designer, and overall a noteworthy artist.   

Born in a middle class family in Mysuru, Nagaraj pursued polymer engineering at SJCE city to become a graduate. However, his passion for film making and covering events under sketch frame spurred him to pursue a post- graduate course in Film and Design at National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, in 2006.

His debut in short films earned him awards and recognition in international film fests: ‘Fly by Red Shoes’ is his first animation film which was screened at several international film festivals and got appreciation and awards. Fly by Red Shoes, goes with cartoon typography narrating man’s fascination for flight which perpetually leads him to glorious achievements and few spectacular failures. Fly by Red Shoes is a tribute to this indomitable spirit of man, which lends him wings. It is a story where myth is entwined in reality, fact flows with fantasy along the stream of history. This animated short film also explores interpretive and documentary narrative techniques.

Fly by Red Shoes, screened at 3rd Talent Campus India – Osian’s Cinefan 8th Festival of Asian Cinema 2006, India
• 11th International Animation Festival HIROSHIMA 2006, Japan
• 4th Berlin Asia-Pacific Film Festival, Germany
• 4th International Animated Film Festival Tindirindis 2006, Lithuania
• Best Animation Short – 3rd Ashvita Film and Photography Competition 2006, India
• Best Animation Film – Twilight 07- National Level Short Film Festival, India
• Silver Bridge Stolac Short Film Festival 2007, Bosnia and Herzegovina 
• 6th Kara Film Festival – The Karachi International Film Festival 2006, Pakistan
• 6th Tiburon International Film Festival 2007, USA
• 6th Oskariada International Independent Film Festival 2007, Poland 
• 3rd Eco Vision International Film Festival 2007, Italy
• Muuuvi International Short Film Festival 2007, Romania 
• 3rd BUSHO – Budapest Short Film Festival 2007, Hungary
• 10th ZIFF – Zanzibar International Film Festival 2007, Tanzania
• 7th IAAC – Indo American Arts Council Film Festival 2007, USA
• AYACC – Asian Youth Animation and Comics Contest 2008, Guiyang, China
• Eco Vision International Film Festival – Período del Festival 2009, Brazil

Apart from these, he also worked for Tulika publications and his bright, stylished illustrations in the book ‘Who will Rule?’ brought together elements of Indian and aboriginal folk art to add a whimsical quality to the story. His pictures for the book ‘The Rabbit in the Moon’ in the Panchatantra series are a deft adaption of the Pithora style. His latest work for Tulika publications is ‘Five Little Monkeys.’

Read the words of Harsha Nagaraj who believes that sketching is kind of a meditation which gives him peace of mind as he has a deep attachment with gel pen and white sheets, “I have been sketching as early as a boy if I can remember, for me, “it is a way of observing, experiencing and remembering my immediate reality. Drawing is a universal language and probably the first one through which we communicate; it is perhaps the simplest one with which we can think and interpret.

It is quick, mostly relaxing and always enriching as a process and a foundation to build upon with further ideas and stories. For me it is second nature, I use it in a variety of creative disciplines to design, document and narrate stories. Also, drawing increases one’s capacity for observation and sensitises one to the myriad stories that are all around us. Work as an independent and freelance artist is full of freedom to explore and experiment, but often not stable in terms of material resources and is always a test of faith and creative vision.

Overall one’s evolution with its many ups and downs is most fulfilling though. My natural interests in art, philosophy, music and cinema also influences the themes and subjects I draw. Grew up during a time when one could look at a newspaper cartoon, textbook illustration or a film for hours and get lost in imagination, now with excess digital technology, attention spans are limited and time is a luxury, the artist seeks to create a timeless space.”

He is currently focusing on documentation for educational institutions in Bylakuppe, Tibetan settlements, in comparison to ancient Nalanda University. The artist may be reached on cell: 72599 31565.

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