Sonia Mehra Chawla has a multidisciplinary practice as an artist, photographer, and researcher. Her artistic practice explores notions of selfhood, nature, ecology, sustainability and conservation. In her work, she uses a variety of media including photography, fine art printmaking, video, installation and painting.

Mehra Chawla's practice is process oriented and research based, with a focus on specific locations and micro histories. Through her artistic projects, she examines how local places contribute to global changes, what drives those changes, how these contributions change over time, how and where scale matters, what are the interactions between macro-structures and micro-agencies, and how efforts at mitigation and adaptation can be locally initiated and adopted.

The current and ongoing phases of her practice mark her close engagement with the present and future of India's coastal agriculture, and coastal and mangrove ecosystems. The artist's practice combines a commitment to the processes of research with a fidelity to the poetics of the artwork. Her work brings together a variety of impulses, ranging from microscopic details of bacterial and microbial cultures to documentary cinematic studies of marginalized groups whose Eco-sensitive occupations have suffered as a result of the decline in their environment.

The artist's work is often a result of sustained collaborations with scientific institutions, research institutions, Non Profit Organizations and Trusts in India, as well as interactions with fishing communities, farming and agricultural communities, tribal and indigenous people of India.

Through her practice, Mehra Chawla explores, dissects, re-examines and re-envisions spaces that exist at the intersections of art and science, social and natural realms, self and the other, focusing on the important dimensions of human engagement with and within nature, ranging from the built-environment to the 'wilderness', and human and non-human narratives and interrelations in the Anthropocene.

The artist lives and works in New Delhi, India.


Born in Kolkata, West Bengal, India, Sonia Mehra Chawla received her Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts (BFA) in 2001, and Master's Degree in Fine Arts (MFA) in 2004 from Delhi University's College of Art, New Delhi, India. Chawla has an interdisciplinary practice as an artist, photographer and researcher. Her artistic practice explores notions of selfhood, nature, ecology, sustainability and conservation. She is the recipient of prestigious awards such as the National Award for Painting, Lalit Kala Akademi, National Academy of Art, India (2004). Mehra Chawla received a fellowship and grant in the field of visual arts from Charles Wallace India Trust (CWIT) and British Council India in 2014. Furthermore, Chawla is a fellow and awardee of the International Art+ Science programme instituted by Khoj International Artists' Association and Wellcome Trust UK/DBT India Alliance (2017-18). Chawla was awarded a long term International fellowship and residency in the area of Social Sciences by Akademie Schloss Solitude, Germany, for the art, science and business program of the akademie. (2019-22)

Mehra Chawla has participated in curated projects at several International Museums and Institutions such as the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart, Germany, British Council, New Delhi, Essl Museum of Contemporary Art, Klosterneuberg, Austria, ZKM | Museum & Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Germany, Yinchuan Museum of Contemporary Art, Yinchuan, China, Tate Modern, London, UK, Embassy of Switzerland, New Delhi, India, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China, CSMVS Museum Mumbai, India (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India), Goethe-Institut Mumbai, India and Albertina Modern, Vienna.

Chawla has participated in Community Art Projects at Khoj International Artists Organization, New Delhi, from 2004 to 2007, and public art projects at ET4U Contemporary Visual Art Projects, Denmark, in 2013 and 2017. She was invited as an International artist and speaker for SCAD Define Art 2013, organized by SCAD Museum and SCAD University Hong Kong. She has been a speaker and panellist at Charles Wallace India Trust's Awardees Seminar at British Council Mumbai in 2015. She was an invited speaker and panelist on 'art, ecology and preservation' for Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai, curated by Ranjit Hoskote & Asad Lalljee in 2016. Furthermore, Chawla was invited to give a lecture presentation on her interdisciplinary artistic research and practice at 'IIT Cognitalks', the annual seminar of the Indian Institute of Technology in Gandhinagar, Gujrat in 2018, and at Marine Scotland's seminar series at the Marine Laboratory of the Scottish Government in Aberdeen in 2019.

Chawla's solo exhibitions include 'Entanglements of Time & Tide', Edinburgh Printmakers in collaboration with Marine Scotland, Creative Scotland and ASCUS Art & Science Edinburgh (2021), (UN)Containable Life, a comprehensive solo spanning a decade of artistic practice, 1x1 Art Gallery, Dubai (2020-21), 'Critical Membrane', Exhibit 320, New Delhi; curatorial adviser to the project: Ranjit Hoskote (2017), 'Scapelands', Exhibit 320, New Delhi in collaboration with British Council India and Charles Wallace India Trust (2015), 'Scapelands', Tarq, Mumbai, in collaboration with British Council India and CWIT (2015), The Embryonic Plant & Otherworlds, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hongkong (2013), 'Metamorphosing Female', Beck & Eggeling International Fine Arts, Dusseldorf, Germany (2011), and 'Urban-Biomorphic', curated by Dr Alka Pande, Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, (2008).

Chawla's Selected Group Participations and Projects include: 'Driving the Human' at Radialsystem, Berlin presented by ZKM | Museum & Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, acatech – National Academy of Science and Engineering, Forecast Berlin, and Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, Germany (2021), Edinburgh Art Festival 2021, Edinburgh International Science Festival 2021, Fragile Kinships, Embassy of Switzerland, New Delhi (2019), 'The Undivided Mind', Khoj International Artists Association, supported by Wellcome Trust UK/DBT India Alliance (2018), 'Eine Welt in der Stadt : zoologische und botanische Gärten = A world in the city : zoological and botanic gardens', curated by Kaiwan Mehta, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, ifa Galerie, Stuttgart, Germany (2017), 'Planes of Experience, Zones of Action', curated by Kaiwan Mehta, Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut Mumbai (2017), 'On slippery grounds', ET4U Contemporary Visual Art Projects, Denmark (2017), 'For An Image Faster Than Light', Yinchuan Biennale 2016, curated by Bose Krishnamachari, Museum of Contemporary Art, Yinchuan, China, 'Ein Baum Ist Ein Baum Ist Ein Baum' curated by Prof. Dr. Herwig Guratzch and Kirsten Nordahl, Beck & Eggeling, Dusseldorf, Germany (2015-16), 'The Wave Project' curated by Klavs Weiss and Karen Havskov Jensen, ET4U Contemporary Visual Art Projects, Denmark, Scandinavia (2013), 'What Rules?' curated by Deeksha Nath , Nature Morte, Berlin, Germany (2012), 'The Secret Life of Plants: Contemporary perspectives from India, China and Iran', curated by Maya Kovskaya, Exhibit 320, New Delhi (2012), 'India Awakens: Under the Banyan Tree' curated by Alka Pande, ESSL Museum of Contemporary Art, Klosterneuberg, Austria (2011), 'Global/Local: Time and Space in Contemporary Indian Art', curated by Stefan Wimmer, Henn Galerie, Munich, and Beck and Eggeling International New Quarters, Dusseldorf (2010), 'Lo Real Maravilloso: Marvelous Reality' curated by Sunil Mehra, Gallery Espace, New Delhi (2009), 'Re-Claim / Re-Cite / Re-Cycle', curated by Bhavna Kakar, Galerie Bose Pacia (2009), 'The Second Sex: India', 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hongkong (2008), 'Identity and Masquerade: Staging the Self', multimedia project, directed by Anne Braybone, Tate Modern, London (2006-07), 'CC: Crossing Currents: Video Art & Cultural Identities, Indo-Dutch Video Art Exhibition', curated by Yohan Pinajjpel, Lalit Kala Akademi in collaboration with Royal Netherlands Embassy and Mondriaan Foundation (2004).

Chawla has participated in several International Art Fairs such as Sydney Contemporary 13, Carriageworks, Australia in 2013, Art Basel, Hong Kong in 2013, ART HK: Hong Kong International Art Fair in 2009 and 2010, India Art Fair, New Delhi, India Art Summit, New Delhi in 2011 & 2009, Art Cologne 2009, Germany, and SH Contemporary 08, Shanghai in 2008. She was invited for Project Stage Asia Pacific, the curated section of Art Stage Singapore in 2011.

Published critiques include essays and texts authored by Nancy Adajania, Ranjit Hoskote, Dr Alka Pande, Dr (Prof.) Herwig Guratzch, Kaiwan Mehta, Heather Davis, Deeksha Nath, Veeranganakumari Solanki and Maya Kovskaya.

© sonia mehra chawla