Sheela Gowda (°1957, Bhadravati, India) lives and works in Bangalore, India. Gowda is a trained painter, but has taken a sculptural path and makes mostly three-dimensional works and installations. In her abstract sculptures, she uses material with culture-specific meanings, such as human hair, cow manure, incense and kumkuma (a natural pigment that often has a bright red colour). In addition, she works with architectural and collected materials such as wood, metal and stone.
In Gowda’s works, the emphasis is placed on the traditional production processes, displaying a clear connection between her work and the lives of ordinary people. This association takes shape in her work in textile, where she does a series of subtle interventions on existing textiles or on its process. The materials used by the artist include a traditional hand-drawn Kalamkari fabric depicting the tree of life, embroidered motifs and a cloth decorated with Indian icons from the artist's private collection.
A widely used theme in Gowda's oeuvre is the increasingly marginalised and undervalued role of women, but also how the Indian woman is defined by her work, mental obstacles and sexual abuse.
The work of Gowda cannot be classified in a distinctive style, because she is too interested in the specificity of different materials, work processes and places. Despite this inability to categorise her work, we can say that drawing is a constant and important tool for approaching her conceptual work from various angles.