Bangalore-based Sheela Gowda creates her works in laborious processes and uses local materials like cow dung or hair, as evident in a work, ‘Behold’ on view at ARKEN in Denmark. We reveal the specific facets of her work and her evolution as an artist of immense repute as well as credibility:
* The hair is offered by pilgrims in south Indian temples, as an introductory note to her new work mentions. "It is much sought after by the wig industry and exported all over the world. The smaller bits of hair that are not suitable for wigs is sourced by the local industry and woven into ropes which are seen even today in Bangalore’s cityscape, on vehicles, cattle and objects as a talisman to ward off the evil eye."
* She has woven these individual ropes into a continuous length of four kilometers. The contrasting material of fine hair, from people of different age and gender, holding up the hard, shiny metal bumpers expresses both human vulnerability and strength.
* At a broader level, her visual idiom tries to grasp the complexity of the contemporary issues, including violence and suppression, as she works toward layers of meaning even while striving to trim the form to the extent possible, so as the reference or the source is discreetly suggested; not stated literally.
*Among select solo exhibitions that are a testimony to Sheela Gowda’s artistic talent are ‘Postulates of Contiguity’, Office For Contemporary Art (OCA) Norway (2010); ‘Touching Base’, Museum Gouda (2008); apart from shows at Bose Pacia, New York (2006); GALLERY SKE, Bangalore (2004); Gallery Chemould, Mumbai (1993); and Gallery 7, Mumbai (1989), among others.
* She has also participated in several significant group exhibitions like ‘Indian Highway’, Herning Museum of Contemporary Art (2010); ‘Textiles: Art and Social Fabric’, MuKHA, Antwerp (2009); Sharjah Biennial and Venice Arsenale (2009). ‘India Moderna’, IVAM Museum, Valencia, Spain ((2008-09); ‘Indian Highway’, Serpentine Gallery, London ((2008-09); ‘Santhal Family’, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp (2008); ‘Fire Walkers’, Stefan Stux Gallery, New York (2008); ‘Horn Please’, Bern; Documenta 12 Kassel ((2007); and the Lyon Biennale (2007).