ARTISTIC PRACTICE


Sonia Mehra Chawla is a visual artist and researcher. Her artistic practice traverses notions of selfhood, nature, ecology, and sustainability. Mehra Chawla has trained as a painter and printmaker and her work spans across a variety of media including photography, fine art printmaking, video, installation and painting.

The current and ongoing phase of her practice marks her close engagement with the present and future of India’s coastal agriculture, with a focus on the impacts of climate change on rice ecosystems, indigenous and transgenic rice, and climate adaptation and mitigation.

In addition, Mehra Chawla has been exploring India’s fragile and endangered coastal ecosystems and mangrove ecosystems along India’s Coromandel and Malabar coasts for over half a decade.

The artist’s practice combines a commitment to the processes of research and activism 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 marginalised 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 and Non-Governmental Organizations and Trusts in India, as well as interactions with fishing communities, farming and agricultural communities, ethnic and indigenous people, and tribal communities of rural and semi-urban regions of India.

Through her work, Chawla explores, constructs, dissects and re-imagines spaces that exist at the interface between art and science, nature and culture, production and perception, self and the other.

The artist lives and works in New Delhi, India.


 
BIOGRAPHY


Born in Kolkata, West Bengal, India, Sonia Mehra Chawla received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts in 2001, and Masters Degree in Fine Arts in 2004-2005 from College of Art, New Delhi, India. She is the recipient of prestigious awards such as 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. Mehra Chawla received the Charles Wallace India Trust Award and scholarship for Visual Arts 2014-2015, by British Council and Charles Wallace India Trust. She was a Charles Wallace scholar to the UK in 2014. She received the International Art+Science Grant Award instituted by Khoj International Artists Association, India + Wellcome Trust UK/DBT India Alliance in 2017-18.

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, 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. Mehra 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 panellist at the Charles Wallace Awardees Presentation at British Council Mumbai, India, in 2015, and was invited to speak on art, ecology and preservation at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai, India curated by Ranjit Hoskote & Asad Lalljee in 2016.

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: 'The Undivided Mind', International Art+ Science Residency, Khoj International Artists Association + Wellcome Trust UK/DBT India Alliance(2018), '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 2013-2016, 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 Ranjit Hoskote, Dr Alka Pande, Dr (Prof.) Herwig Guratzch, Kaiwan Mehta, Heather Davis, Deeksha Nath, and Veeranganakumari Solanki.

© sonia mehra chawla