Sheela Gowda

Sheela Gowda was born in Bhadravati, Karnataka in 1957. Having got a diploma in painting from the Ken School of Art, Bangalore in 1979, she studied briefly at M.S. University, Baroda and did her post-diploma in painting at Vishwa bharati, Shanti Niketan (1980-82). Her early oils with pensive girls in nature were influenced by her mentor K.G. Subramanyan, and later ones by Nalini Malani towards a somewhat expressionistic direction depicting a middle class chaos and tensions underplayed by coarse eroticism. Subsequent compositions had eerie and sensual female presence in the organic world permeated by a sense of instinctual cruelty. After her In laks scholarship for an M.A. in painting at the Royal College of Art, London (1984- 86) and a stint at the Cite International des Arts, Paris, she taught for a while at CAVA, Mysore and lived in a semi-urban village nearby. She lives periodically in Switzerland, and permanently in Bangalore. The European exposure and the new awareness of Indian reality formed from a woman's view -point resulted in the late'80s in a cycle of large oils on canvas also smaller works, which deal with an oppressive, yet somehow fantastic, even poetic - bodily and emotional -immersion of people in their miserable surroundings, bound with it in their almost blind acts of aggressiveness and camal possession. Especially women are defined and transposed by the load of their work, mental confinement and being accessible to sexual violation. The brushing verges on the gestural, yet shapes objects and figures of people in their partial concreteness as well as very abstracted, merging into a complex, flexible and permeable unity with the background, simultaneously bringing everything to the surface and creating murky to glowing depths. In order to achieve a complete fusion of her image and material as well as a gesture of local rootedness and solidarity with women who work with it, in 1992 Gowda began to use cow dung along with other substances like kumkum, paper, printed textiles and charred wood. Belonging symbolically and emotionally to daily life and ritual, these materials applied by her both in painterly ways and installation-wise, bear highly charged associations which the artist emphasis subtly bringing out again stands of sensuality and violence which mould the existence of women here, but which she steers to assert them, to probe and protest. Her images range from those of tormented bodies-charred, stretched- to drawing out vital arteries in nature and pointing to their preciousness by gold inlay on cow dung cakes, to marking out the territories of one's life and its passages. These works frequently being virtually abstract, possess yet a feel of the actual and the raw as well as that of the artists' empathy and involvement.

Gowda's solo exhibitions were held at the Venkatappa Art Gallery, Bangalore 1987, Gallery 7, Bombay 1989, Anatomy of Sacrilege, Chemould, Bombay and Bangalore 1993. Her participation's include Karnataka Lalit Kala Akademi exhibitions, Bangalore 198 1, '82,'85, national exhibition, LKA, New Delhi 1984, Timeless Art, Bombay 1989, Tangente, Schaffhausen, Switzerland 1994, Africa's, Johannesburg Biennial 1994, Art and Nature, New Delhi, New Delhi, Immaterial - Material, Bangalore 1995, Traditions/ Tensions, New York 1996.

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Sheela Gowda
Untitled
Cowdung on paper/board
24" x 30"
1993

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Sheela Gowda
Gallant Hearts
Cowdung & Kumkum Threads
144" x 12" x 6"
1996