Sheela Gowda (b. Bhadravati, India, 1957) lives and works in Bengaluru. The Lenbachhaus presents her first solo exhibition at a museum in Germany. For her sprawling installations, Gowda uses distinctive materials from her country whose consistencies, colors, and scents endow her works with an air of narrative as well as metaphorical force. The creative use of cow dung, kumkum powder, coconut fiber, hair, needles, threads, stones, tar barrels, or tarpaulins blends connotations of manual craftsmanship and practical application with poetic intensity for a meditation on both urban and rural life in India.
Gowda started out as an oil painter, making works that already anticipated the themes of her mature oeuvre: the everyday life of the Indian middle class, the conflicts that women confront in their working and private lives, and media images of political and social tensions were early subjects of her critical engagement with her society. Her exploration, in the early 1990s, of the potentials of cow dung as a medium, initially in pictures, then also in three-dimensional pieces and installations, eventually set in motion a broader shift toward new materials in her art.
Sheela Gowda was represented at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2012, the Venice Biennale in 2009, documenta 12 and the Biennale de Lyon, both in 2007. Solo exhibitions were held in Birmingham, Hong Kong, Berlin, Dublin, Vassivière, Lund, Eindhoven, and in Oslo. Further solo exhibitions are scheduled for 2019 in Milan and Valencia. Selected participations in group exhibitions include those in Mönchengladbach, Beijing, Lyon, New Delhi, London, Bern, and Minneapolis. In 2014, she was a finalist of the Hugo Boss Award.
The exhibition is organized in conjunction with Sheela Gowda's receipt of the Maria Lassnig Prize 2019. The prize is awarded every two years by the Maria Lassnig Foundation to honor the achievements of mid-career artists.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication.
Curated by Eva Huttenlauch