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Maria Lassnig Prize 2019 will be awarded to the artist Sheela Gowda
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.


MUNICH.- The Maria Lassnig Foundation and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München.announced that the Maria Lassnig Prize 2019 will be awarded to the artist Sheela Gowda. Sheela Gowda is the second artist granted this prize by the Maria Lassnig Foundation. The prize is given biennially to a mid-career artist.

The Artist
Sheela Gowda (b. 1957 in Bhadravati, India) lives and works in Bangalore. She studied Painting at the Ken School of Art in Bangalore, Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, and the Royal College of Art in 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. Cow dung, for example, is used as a functional building material and at the same time holds cultic connotations, just as kumkuma powder is both a spice and a dye for cultic body decoration and religious rituals. By using country-specific materials, the artist does not primarily illustrate traditional references, but also and especially consciously criticizes socio-political circumstances. Many of her materials come from the realm of work traditionally associated with women. The strategies of the manufacturing industry or the marketing of these natural materials also play a role in her work. Her artistic resources are mostly found in her hometown of Bangalore. In the past, this “Silicon Valley of India” has experienced rapid technological and economic development. Gowda finds here materials and objects such as metal drums, lead pipes, and pieces of asphalt, which are often collected and recycled by migrant workers. By removing these abandoned objects from their original context, she subjects them to a shift in meaning and elevates them to works of art.

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 at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham in 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong in 2015, the daadgalerie in Berlin, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, the Centre international d'Art et du Paysage in Vassivière in 2014, the Lunds Konsthall in Lund, the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven in 2013, and the Office for Contemporary Art, Oslo in 2010. Further solo exhibitions are scheduled for 2019 at Hangar Bicocca, Milan and the Centre d’Art Bombas Gens, Valencia. Selected participations in group exhibitions include those at the Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach in 2014, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing in 2012, the Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon in 2011, the Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi and the Serpentine Galleries, London in 2009, as well as at the Kunstmuseum Bern in 2008 and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis in 2003. In 2014, she was a finalist of the Hugo Boss Award.

The Award Ceremony
The award ceremony will take place at the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München on June 7, 2019 at 7:00 pm.

The laudation will be given by Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art in Singapore.

Following the laudation, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries in London, will conduct an artist talk with Sheela Gowda.

The Jury
The jury for the Maria Lassnig Prize 2019 consisted of:

• Katharina Grosse, Artist, Berlin

• Eva Huttenlauch, Head of Collection and Curator, Art after 1945 at Lenbachhaus, Munich

• Matthias Mühling, Director of Lenbachhaus, Munich and Member of the Board of the Maria Lassnig Foundation

• Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries, London and Member of the Advisory Board of the Maria Lassnig Foundation

• Peter Pakesch, Chairman of the Board of the Maria Lassnig Foundation

• Stephanie Weber, Curator of Contemporary Art at Lenbachhaus, Munich

The Exhibition
In 2019/20, the institutional partner for the Maria Lassnig Prize will be the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau Munich, which presented an extremely successfully solo exhibition on the occasion of Lassnig’s ninetieth birthday in 2010. Sheela Gowda’s exhibition at Lenbachhaus will open in spring 2020.

Curator of the exhibition is Eva Huttenlauch, Head of Collection and Curator, Art after 1945 at Lenbachhaus.

The award ceremony will take place during the exhibition BODY CHECK. Martin Kippenberger and Maria Lassnig, which will be on view at Lenbachhaus from May 21 to September 15, 2020.





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