News & events > Maria Lassnig Prize 2019 awarded to Sheela Gowda
27 Mar 2019

Maria Lassnig Prize 2019 awarded to Sheela Gowda

The Maria Lassnig Foundation and the Lenbachhaus are pleased to announce that the Maria Lassnig Prize 2019 will be awarded to the artist Sheela Gowda. The prize is given biennially to a mid-career artist. It was conceived by the Austrian artist Maria Lassnig before her death in 2014. Lassnig herself, who at the age of ninety-four had reached the zenith of her career, was only recognized as an artist late in her life.

Sheela Gowda is the second artist granted this prize by the Maria Lassnig Foundation which began its work in 2015 to administer the legacy of one of the most original and important contemporary artists.

Sheela Gowda (b. 1957 in Bhadravati, India) lives and works in Bangalore. She studied Painting in Bangalore and London. For her sculptures and installations, Sheela Gowda uses materials that, due to their consistency, color, and odor, create a narrative atmosphere and concomitantly unfold metaphorical power. Materials such as cow dung, kumkuma powder, incense, and coconut fibers, as well as hairs, needles, and threads combine connotations of everyday use with a poetic charge and refer to urban and rural life in India. Before Sheela Gowda turned to installations and sculpture in a minimalist formal language in the 1990s, she worked with expressive oil painting, in which her later themes were already laid out. Early on, the everyday life of the Indian middle class, the conflicts of women in their working and private lives, and images of political and social tension conveyed through the media had already become recurring artistic preoccupations.

Sheela Gowda was represented at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2012, the Venice Biennale in 2009, documenta 12 and the Biennale de Lyon, both in 2007. Solo exhibitions were held in Birmingham, Hong Kong, Berlin, Dublin, Vassivière, Lund, Eindhoven, and in Oslo. Further solo exhibitions are scheduled for 2019 in Milan and Valencia. Selected participations in group exhibitions include those in Mönchengladbach, Beijing, Lyon, New Delhi, London, Bern, and Minneapolis. In 2014, she was a finalist of the Hugo Boss Award.

As the institutional partner for the Maria Lassnig Prize, the Lenbachhaus in Munich will open an extensive solo exhibition of Gowda's work in 2020. The award ceremony and artist's talk takes place there on 7 June 2019.

Image: Sheela Gowda, 2017, installation view, Ikon Gallery. Courtesy: Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; photograph: Stuart Whipps