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Lunds konsthall announces Sheela Gowda: Open Eye Policy

Lunds konsthall presents Sheela Gowda: Open Eye Policy , the most comprehensive solo exhibition to date by the internationally renowned Indian artist Sheela Gowda and the first major presentation of her work in Sweden. The exhibition features sculptures, large installations, paintings and photographs from the last twenty years. On view 15 June–25 August 2013.

Sheela Gowda, And Tell Him of My Pain, 2002–2007. Courtesy the artist.
Sheela Gowda, And Tell Him of My Pain, 2002–2007. Courtesy the artist.
Curated by Grant Watson in collaboration with Annie Fletcher and originally shown at Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, Open Eye Policy has now been adapted to the distinctive 1950s architecture of Lunds konsthall.

Sheela Gowda was born in 1957 in Bhadravati, in the south Indian state of Karnataka. She lives in Bangalore. A graduate of art academies in India and the UK, she emerged in the 1980s as a figurative painter, but in the 1990s her work developed towards the elegant and thought-provoking sculptures and installations for which she is best known. Gowda’s characteristic approach balances formal composition, theatrical staging and an innovative use of unexpected materials. While it suggests a preoccupation with abstraction, it also reveals a continuous and nuanced engagement with society, politics and the environment.

Gowda often works with distinctly pre-industrial materials such as cow dung, thread, string, and wooden chips—but also with ‘waste’ from the frantic economic activity in today’s India such as the steel tar drums and plastic tarpaulins used for road construction. These are all thoroughly transformed and subverted in the situations she creates to display her work. She treats images, usually taken from the news media, in much the same way: as support for her subtle but efficient critical manipulations of what we think we see, and also what we expect from ‘formalism’ in art.

Open Eye Policy juxtaposed works from different periods and in different materials and scales, to articulate an understanding of Gowda’s multi-faceted but consistent (and consistently unpredictable) practice. Among the earlier works representing her use of cow dung is My Private Gallery (1998–1999), which also features a selection of watercolours—a medium she has returned to in recent years.

For the large installation And… (2002–2007, a version of And Tell Him of My Pain, 1997) Gowda uses thread, glue and red pigment to make the ropes that coil through the exhibition space. Kagebangara (2001) is made with materials acquired from the workers building the roads that underpin economic growth. Of All People (2011), another large-scale installation, is more ‘domestic’ in its theatrical use of furniture and window frames to create what Gowda calls an ‘immersive landscape’ for the little wooden chips that are actually votive offerings with rudimentary human features.

The political is ever present as an undercurrent in Gowda’s practice, and her rarely seen works on paper from recent years bring this to the surface. The exhibition at Lunds konsthall includes a number of these, such as Crime Fiction (2008) and Protest My Son (2011).

Lunds konsthall warmly thanks Sheela Gowda, Grant Watson and Annie Fletcher for their strong commitment to the exhibition. We also thank all the lenders: Sheela Gowda herself, Arani and Mita Bose, Thomas Erben, Amrita Jhaveri, Sunitha Kumar Emmet, Karin Miller Lewis and Ashish Rajadhyaksha. Without their generosity, this exhibition and its tour would never have happened.

Open Eye Policy will travel to the Centre international d’art et du paysagelle de Vassivière in Beaumont-du-Lac, France.

Lunds konsthall
Mårtenstorget 3
SE-22351 Lund, Sweden
T +46 46 355295
[email protected]