Sheela Gowda trained as a painter during the mid-1980s, at the Royal College of Arts in London and the Cité International des Arts in Paris. These European references, together with an awareness of the Indian socio-cultural situation, resulted in a series of oil paintings dealing with the bodily and emotional immersion of people in their surroundings. At the beginning of the 1990s Gowda started using unconventional and often unusual materials, through which she expressed the angst and melancholy caused by local socio-political tensions. Her labour-intensive installations show an attempt to preserve the integrity of her materials and at the same time the will to contend with their peculiar resistances. In her own words, Gowda seeks a 'specificity within abstraction' that avoids strident statements and instead reveals meaning through suggestion.
Sheela Gowda's work has been included in documenta 12 , Kassel, 2007; 'Fare Mondi//Making Worlds…', the 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009; 'Indian Highway' at The Serpentine Gallery, London and Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo, Norway, 2009; the 2009 Sharjah Biennial, United Arab Emirates; 'Santhal Family: Positions Around an Indian Sculpture', MuHKA, Antwerp, Belgium, 2008; and 'HORN PLEASE: Narratives in Contemporary Indian Art', Museum of Fine Arts Bern, Switzerland, 2007-08 among others.
Sheela Gowda's Rresidency has been supported by O3-funds as underwritten by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for enhancing collaboration in the contemporary art field with professional artists in countries designated by the MFA. The purpose of the O3-funds as allocated to OCA is to further develop cooperation and professional networking between OCA and the constituency of artists, independent cultural producers, and organisations that are located in designated countries.