Sheela Gowda

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Sheela Gowda
Born1957 (age 66–67)
Bhadravati, India
EducationRoyal College of Art
Known forPainting, Sculpture, Installation
AwardsMaria Lassnig Prize (2019), Finalist for the 2014 Hugo Boss Prize, Rajyotsava Award (2013), Shortlisted for Artes Mundi 5, Cardiff (2012), Sotheby's Prize for Contemporary Indian Art (1998), G.S. Shenoy Award (1998), Senior Fellowship, Government of India (1994-1996), Karnataka Lalith Kala Academy Award (1985), Inlaks Foundation Scholarship for postgraduate studies at the RCA, London (1984-1986), Karnataka Lalith Kala Academy scholarship for higher studies (1979-1982)

Sheela Gowda (born 1957 in Bhadravati, India[1]) is a contemporary artist living and working in Bangalore. Gowda studied painting at Ken School of Art, Bangalore, India (1979) pursued a postgraduate diploma at Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, India (1982), and a MA in painting from the Royal College of Art in London in 1986. Trained as a painter Gowda expanded her practice into sculpture and installation employing a diversity of material like human hair, cow-dung, incense and kumkuma powder (a natural pigment most often available in brilliant red). She is known for her 'process-orientated' work, often inspired by the everyday labor experiences of marginalized people in India.[2] Her work is associated with postminimalism drawing from ritualistic associations.[citation needed] 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.[3] She is the recipient of the 2019 Maria Lassnig Prize.[4]

Early life[edit]

Due to her father, she lived in both rural and urban areas. Her father documented folk music and collected folk objects. Gowda's art schooling began at Ken in Bangalore, a small college established by R. M. Hadapad. Later, she went to Baroda to study under Professor K. G. Subramanyan.[5]


Gowda moved into installation and sculpture in the 1990s in response to the changing political landscape in India. She had her first solo show at Iniva, London, entitled Therein and Besides in 2011.[6] She was a finalist for the Hugo Boss Award in 2014.[7] She creates apocalyptic landscapes using materials such as incense and kumkuma drawing a direct relationship between the labor practices of the incense industry and its treatment of women.[6] Her works portrayed the condition of the women which is often defined by the load of their work, mental barriers and sexual violation.[3]

Notable exhibitions[edit]

Gowda's work has been exhibited in numerous solo exhibitions and festivals:

  • Gallery 7, Mumbai (1989);
  • Gallery Chemould, Mumbai (1993);
  • GALLERYSKE, Bangalore (2004, 2008, 2011 and 2015);
  • Bose Pacia Gallery, New York (2006);
  • Museum Gouda, Netherlands (2008);
  • Office for Contemporary Art, Oslo (2010);
  • Iniva, London (2011);
  • Open Eye Policy, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (2013);
  • Centre International D'Art and Du Paysage (2014);
  • Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2014);
  • Documenta 12 (2007);
  • Venice Biennale (2009);
  • Provisions, Sharjah Biennial (2009);
  • Garden of Learning, Busan Biennial (2012);
  • IKON, Birmingham United Kingdom (2017);
  • "Remains" Pirelli HangarBiococca, Milan Italy (2019)
  • "Remains" BombasGens Centre D'Art, Valencia Spain (2019)
  • Sheela Gowda. It.. Matters, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, Munich (2020)

Notable group exhibitions include:

  • How Latitudes Become Form, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2003);
  • Indian Highway, Serpentine Gallery, London (2008);
  • Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi (2009);
  • Paris-Delhi-Bombay, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2011);
  • MAXXI - National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, Rome (2011);
  • Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2012);
  • Arken Museum, Copenhagen (2012);
  • Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi (2013);
  • Museum Abteiberg, Monchengladbach (2014);
  • Para Site, Hong Kong (2015).

Major collections[edit]

  • Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, USA[8]
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, USA[9]


  • Vedrenne, Elisabeth Sheela Gowda en révolte. Rebellious Sheila Gowda.. Connaissance Des Arts, (724), 34. 6 March 2014
  • Singh, Devika (May 2014). "Sheela Gowda". Art Press Sarl. 411 (411): 18. ProQuest 1625537046.
  • Vedrenne, Elisabeth (5 September 2014). "Sheila Gowda en révolte. [Rebellious Sheila Gowda.]". Connaissance des Arts. 724 (724): 34. ProQuest 1560570062.
  • Sardesai, Abhay (September 2013). "The Biennale everyone liked". 17 (4): 34–39. ProQuest 1496657486. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Morgan, Jessica (May 2013). "Material concern: the art of Sheela Gowda". Artforum. 51 (9): 302–309. ProQuest 1412495693.
  • Sandhu, Amanprit (March 2013). "Kochi-Muziris Biennale". Frieze. 153 (153): 1–146. ProQuest 1328500296.
  • Kravagna, Christian (Spring 2013). "Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kochi, Kerala, Indien. [Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kochi, Kerala, India.]". Springerin. 19 (2): 58–59. ProQuest 1412551300.
  • Jumabhoy, Zehra (March 2013). "Now, voyager". Art India. 17 (3): 32–43. ProQuest 1435841545.
  • Huber-Sigwart, Ann (2012). "tween the lines: some thoughts on Sheela Gowda's works". N.paradoxa. 29 (29): 5–13. ProQuest 1320434532.
  • Jakimowicz, Marta (September 2011). "Made for each other". Art India. 16 (3): 36–39. ProQuest 1320396855.
  • Lequeux; Panchal, Emmanuelle; Gyan (June 2011). "L'Inde vu par les artistes indiens at français. [India, as seen by Indian and French artists.]". Beaux Arts Magazine. 324 (324): 64–73. ProQuest 1320369921.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)


  1. ^ Wright, Karen; Elderton, Louisa; Morrill, Rebecca, eds. (2 October 2019). Great Women Artists. London New York: Phaidon Press. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-7148-7877-5.
  2. ^ "Sheela Gowda". Guggenheim Museum. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b Dalmia, Yashodhara. Indian Contemporary Art Post Independence. Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi.
  4. ^ Armstrong, Annie (12 March 2019). "Sheela Gowda Wins 2019 Maria Lassnig Prize".
  5. ^ Rastogi & Karode, Akansha & Roobina (2013). Seven Contemporaries. New Delhi: Kiran Nadar Museum of Art. pp. 154–167. ISBN 978-81-928037-2-2.
  6. ^ a b Skye Sherwyn (26 January 2011). "Artist of the Week: Sheela Gowda". The Guardian.
  7. ^ "Sheela Gowda". Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  8. ^ "And Tell Him of My Pain". Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Loss". Guggenheim. 1 January 2008. Retrieved 19 October 2017.

External links[edit]