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.


Sonia Mehra Chawla is an artist based in New Delhi, India. She received her BFA in 2001 and MFA in 2004–2005 from Delhi University’s College of Art, New Delhi. Chawla has an interdisciplinary practice as an artist, photographer and researcher. Her artistic practice explores notions of selfhood, nature, ecology, sustainability, and conservation.

Chawla received the National Award for Painting, Lalit Kala Akademi, National Academy of Art India in 2004, and National Scholarship, Ministry of Culture, Government Of India in 2004. She is the recipient of the British Council and Charles Wallace India Trust Award and scholarship for Visual Arts, 2014-2015. She was a Charles Wallace scholar to the UK in 2014 for research in fine art printmaking. She received the International Art+Science Grant Award instituted by Khoj International Artists Association, India and Wellcome Trust UK/DBT India Alliance in 2017-18. Chawla was awarded an International Fellowship in the area of Social Sciences by Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany for 2019-2020, for the Art, Science and Business program of the Akademie.

Mehra Chawla has participated in curated projects at several International Museums and Institutions such as the Institut Fur Auslansbeziehungen in Stuttgart, Germany (Institute For Foreign Cultural Relations, Germany), British Council, New Delhi, India, Essl Museum of Contemporary Art, Klosterneuberg, Austria, 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) and Goethe Institut, Mumbai, India.

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 & 2017. Chawla was invited as an International artist and speaker for SCAD Define Art 2013 in Hong Kong, organized by SCAD Museum and SCAD University Hong Kong. She has been a speaker and panelist at the Charles Wallace Awardees Presentation at British Council Mumbai, India, in 2015. She was part of a panel discussion on art, ecology and preservation at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai, India curated by Ranjit Hoskote & Asad Lalljee in 2016. She was invited to deliver a lecture presentation at IIT Cognitalks 2018, organized by the Center For Cognitive Science, Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, India in 2018. The artist has recently been a part of three International artist residencies in Scotland between 2018 and 2019, at Edinburgh Printmakers, ASCUS Art & Science, Edinburgh, and Marine Laboratory, Scottish Government, Aberdeen.

Chawla’s solo projects include ‘Critical Membrane’, Exhibit 320, New Delhi (2016), curatorial adviser to the project : Ranjit Hoskote, ‘Scapelands’, Exhibit 320, New Delhi in collaboration with British Council India and Charles Wallace India Trust (2015), ‘Scapelands’, Tarq, Mumbai (2015), The Embryonic Plant & Otherworlds, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hongkong (2013), ‘Metamorphosing Female: Transition –Transfiguration’, Beck & Eggeling International Fine Arts, Dusseldorf, Germany (2011), and ‘Urban-Biomorphic’, Visual Arts Gallery, New Delhi, curated by Dr Alka Pande (2008).

Chawla’s Selected Group Participations and Projects include: 'Fragile Kinships', curated by Shaunak Mahbubani, Embassy of Switzerland, New Delhi (2019), ‘The Undivided Mind', International Art+ Science Residency, Khoj International Artists Association + Wellcome Trust UK/DBT India Alliance(2018), 'Collection of Undoings', curated by Usha Gawde, 1X1 Art Gallery, Dubai, UAE, (2019), 'A World in a City : Zoological and Botanic Gardens’, curated by Kaiwan Mehta, Institut Fur Auslansbeziehungen (Institute For Foreign Cultural Relations, Germany), Stuttgart, Germany (2017), ‘Planes of Experience, Zones of Action', curated by Kaiwan Mehta, Goethe Institut, Max Mueller Bhawan, 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 International Fine Arts, Dusseldorf, Germany (2015-2016), ‘The Wave Project’ curated by Klavs Weiss and Karen Havskov Jensen, ET4U Contemporary Visual Art Projects, Denmark, Scandinavia (2013), ‘Spell of Spill: Utopia of Ecology’, curated by Veeranganakumari Solanki, Palette Art Gallery, New Delhi (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), ‘Labyrinths Urban- Organic’, 1x1 Art Gallery, Dubai, UAE (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), ‘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: Hongkong International Art Fair in 2009 and 2010, India Art Fair, New Delhi from 2013-2018, India Art Summit, New Delhi in 2011 & 2009, Art Cologne 2009, Germany, and SH Contemporary 08 in 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 Ranjit Hoskote, Dr Alka Pande, Dr (Prof.) Herwig Guratzch, Kaiwan Mehta, Heather Davis, Deeksha Nath, and Veeranganakumari Solanki.

© sonia mehra chawla