Sheela Gowda's art resides within a space between the local and the global. Her sculptural installations are comprised of such simple materials as cow dung and ash, but each piece is undeniably monumental in its scale and content. Her work reflects upon the passage of time, nuances of violence, the pain of grief - concepts universally shared and understood. Yet her use of specific and indigenous media, such as tar drums used as temporary homes by road workers, or Kumkum, a red dye used for body adornment, address local concerns and lends primacy to the subaltern and a consideration of reality.
Originally trained as a painter, Sheela made a radical shift towards sculpture and installation in the 1990s. Using unconventional and often lowly materials proved a means of subversion as well as a poignant expression of the angst and melancholy precipitated by local socio-political tensions. Her labor-intensive installations demonstrate her principle of preserving the integrity of her materials while simultaneously contending with the peculiar resistances of each. She seeks a kind of "specificity within abstraction" in order to avoid strident statements and instead reveal meaning through subtle layers of suggestion.
This book is the first comprehensive monograph of the artist's work.