press release

Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) is proud to present the first solo exhibition in the UK by Bangalore based artist Sheela Gowda at Rivington Place. This exhibition juxtaposes two major works, giving the viewer an insight into the artist's practice, her thought process and methodology. A new commission entitled of all people (2011) is installed in the main gallery (PS1) and Collateral (2007) is shown on the second floor in (PS2).

Having trained as a painter in the early 1990s, Gowda moved into sculpture and installation, developing an aesthetic language able to respond to the complexity of the world, including its violence and contradictions. Often she begins her projects by selecting a material and testing out its physical as well as conceptual attributes. What will the material do? How can it be transformed? What structures does it make possible? This often results in works pared down to abstract forms that remove the material from its social and economic context, but contain a residue of its source, which is made perceptible to the viewer.

'I work towards layers of meaning while trimming the form to the extent possible, where the reference or the source is suggested but not stated literally.' —Sheela Gowda

On the ground floor, of all people (2011), explores states of abstraction and legibility, using diverse scales. The dimensions of the gallery, elements of furniture and architectural features are a framing device for thousands of small wooden chips which have been hand carved by artisans. Moving through this environment, the viewer is invited to recalibrate their experience of the work from a number of different heights and perspectives.

Collateral (2007) has been produced using the substance employed in the making of incense sticks, which is moulded into forms and then burnt leaving a residue of ash. Spread out across the eight frames on which this process has taken place, the work gives rise to a series of engineered and accidental correspondences between its various elements, and has the appearance of a charred landscape viewed from above.

Past works by the artist include And tell him of my pain (1998) a long red cord produced from many individual threads coated with glue and red pigment and coiled around the gallery touching the floor, walls and ceiling, making sensory and allegorical connections between divergent points. Its presence alludes variously to the internal organs of the body, the sinuous strength and flexibility of a creeper or cord and the variegated movements of a Pollock drip painting.

For the installation Kagebangara (2007), Gowda sourced tar drums from road workers and used these alongside yellow and blue plastic tarpaulins to produce a composition in colour and form. On closer inspection this installation reveals spaces that echo the ones used by workers to sleep in—the artist attuning her materials towards on the one hand an abstract sculpture and on the other a particular urban scenography.

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Sheela Gowda
Therein & Besides