Saturday, 16 April 2011

Sheela Gowda - Therein & Besides

I recently went to the Iniva, Rivington Place
( Institute of International Visual Arts ) to view Indian artist, Sheela Gowda's sculptural works.

Gowda initiates her projects through an interest in the materials she encounters - the everyday materials. She tests out these materials to explore and tap into its potential as a support or vehicle. This enables her to talk in her art language of abstract form, with references to society.

She asks questions around the materials she uses -  'What will happen if I burn it, flatten it,or weave it?'. Gowda works her way through trial and error as a way of 'thinking' through her ideas.

Two separate rooms were used to display these sculptures. I find her work demands you walk around and take in the landscape. For example,  'Collateral' a sculpture which defines  two meanings of the word.
1) Belonging to the same ancestral stock but not a direct line of the descent
2) parallel or corresponding in position, time or significance.
This work is made of the material used to produce incense sticks. Gowda discovered that you could roll out the dough into shapes and forms then burn it and leave the ashen traces behind. This was done on a eight human size, raised beds.

At first I thought it was burnt food, chapatis. Then I got a sense that I was perhaps looking at a landscape of somewhere . . . .  a war torn country. This is when the name made sense and collateral damage comes to mind.
The incense lay flat and looped around, not quite matching up in the layout. I found I could not put it in a box so to speak and in this sense I found the work very powerful. The sense of smell was absent so the material was a mystery until you read information. If it did smell it should have been a scorched smell - not the pungent refreshing smell of incense. I felt this stimulated my line of inquiry into this work. As a viewer, you get the sense of the artist playing with materials, it really comes through as a complete and holistic process.

I felt this work related very strongly to my own process, on the basis of 'things left behind'. The aftermath of an event / situation or in this case the aftermath of the work being made  - the remnants of ash.

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