Sonja Maria Schobinger


Sonja Maria Schobinger developed a deep interest in the world of plants at the age of 13, trying to capture this world in drawings and photographs. Her works reveal to us, on the one hand, a vision of unbridled nature, and on the other the points at which nature and culture intersect. 



Sonja Maria Schobinger

Member of Visarte Basel

2019 February edition, Association for Original Graphics, Zurich

2018 Start of the long-term project with more than 200 botanical glass plate slides by „I.H.“ from the 19th century

2018 Commissioned work for the Swiss Heart Foundation

2017 Commissioned work for the illustration of Research Report 18 of the Swiss CancerLeague

2017 Curator, expert and artistic mediator to students on how to manage historical image archives in the context of the exhibition project „African portraits in the colonial photo archive“ of the Basel Africa bibliographies

2016 Curator of the exhibition project „Black Lady-White Lady“ Basler Africa Bibliographies

Since 2014, freelance photographer for the Basel Africa bibliographies, digitization, restoration of historical footage

1997 Lateral entrant to the third academic year, degree course in photography, Zurich University of the Arts

1989-1993 trained as a graphic designer with the advertising agency CARAT, Zurich

1988-1989 Preliminary course in design at the School of Art and Design in Zurich

1983 Started sitting as a model for numerous artists

1983 Started the long-term projects „Self-portraits“ and „Women pick Flowers“



Long-standing and emerging projects 


Still life


Flowers, for example, placed in a jug created by human hand, in a vessel designed to hold something taken from nature (water, flowers).

„So, the jug in the lower half of the image symbolizes civilization, culture, domestication of the wild as it were, while the upper part of the image depicts nature, the organic, the living. The rim of the jug, where the stems of the plants encounter the mouth of the vessel, marks an interface, the merging of the conscious and subconscious.“


Sonja Maria Schobinger’s aim is to reveal the sensual and aesthetic semiotics of each motif. Literature, expression through language, is an important source of inspiration in this undertaking. It influences Schobinger’s perception and is a source of key impulses in her work. Her focus when reading books, e.g. those of Siri Hustvedt, Aylet Gundar Goshen and A. L. Kennedy, which contain linguistic images with which she can work particularly intensively, is also to connect with familiar and unfamiliar emotional landscapes and to integrate them in her work.


Elements from nature serve me as physical substance, to give metaphysical expression to my thoughts. Processes such as formation and decay – and the stages of human life – find space to resonate in my pictures. The medium of photography allows for me to reveal the meeting of seemingly disconnected worlds, namely nature (the unbridled, organic plant world) and culture (the order created by humanity) and to raise questions related to this topic

Working with my own body also enables me to confront my past: As the child of parents who were both artists, I was integrated in the works of my mother and father as a model from a very young age without fully understanding my role or being able to gauge how it would affect my own development as an artist. I have been photographing myself regularly for many years now, my self-portraits are an important additional element in my more than thirty years of work on photographing plants.



Anthemis nobilis (Roman chamomile)


Since 2018, I have had the pleasure and honour of being able to use a wonderful treasure from the 19th century for my work. Hundreds of hand-painted glass diapositives, which were originally used for the study of botany and pharmacy but then for many years lay forgotten in a private estate. Someone who inherited these glass plates offered me an opportunity to view them, and I was so entranced by their beauty that I wanted to know everything about their history, origin and creator. I am now in the privileged position of having the glass plates at my disposal for my work for an unlimited period of time. In May 2018 I began with their reproduction and reconstructed the faded colours of the tinted glass plates to return them to their original glory, or more specifically to reveal their chromatic and structural nuances once again. Each glass bears the handwritten Latin name of the medicinal plant depicted on it, which led me on a search through various sources for other, very old, sometimes colloquial names to include them alongside the Latin names as an important element in the work. I have been working on the implementation of my project since December 2018. With this work I want to create a world of images that illustrates states of being and the corporality of Flora and humanity, the present and the past, and attempts to unite the analytical gaze of the researcher; the early days of photography; my analogue self-portraits; a man’s lifework in the service of science which has sunk into oblivion and last but not least the mysteries of the feminine and masculine.

I portray the size of the human body on a scale of 1:1 in all the images, which imparts a surreal and excessive expressive power to the plants portrayed.






Solo exhibitions



21. Feb. – Dez. Krebsforschung/Krebsliga, Bern

September,  Schaulager, Hombrechtikon ZH



18. Mai – 1. Juli,  Galerie 94, Baden

16. Juni – 14. Juli,  Galerie Isabelle Gabrijel, Berlin

September,  Circolo, Castelnuovo dell Abate, Montalcino, IT



18. März – 24. April,  Galerie Monika Wertheimer, Oberwil BL

7. August – 25. Sept., Schaulager, Hombrechtikon  ZH



3. Oktober 2015- 16. Januar 2016, Galerie Kunstraum Egg, ZH


Group exhibitions



7. Juni  – 13. Oktober, Carl Spitteler, Imago Geschichtsbilder – Frauenbilder – Spiegelbilder, Kunsthalle Palazzo Liestal

17. Mai – 9. Juni,  „entrée & hommage“ 2019, Visarte Basel, Kunstraum M54, Basel

12. Mai – 28. Juli, TERRITORI, Osmosi tra arte e collezionismo, Mact/Cact, Bellinzona

27. Februar, Verein für Originalgrafik Zürich



25.- 28. Oktober, Verein für Originalgrafik Zürich, Kunst 18

21. Sept. – 27. Okt., FEMMEtastisch, Schaffhausen

12. -17. Juni, Galerie 94, Photo Basel, photo art fair

3. März – 27. Mai, MACT/CACT Contemporary Art in Ticino, Bellinzona



29.11.2014- 11.1.2015, Nameless 50/50, Galerie Kunstraum Egg ZH

September, NEAR by Night, Festival des arts visuels de Vevey



23. 3. -19. 5, Kunsthaus Zug CH, Shades of Time



5.12.1997- 18.1.1998, Helmhaus Zürich CH, Am Anfang, Carte Blanche von Hans Danuser





VFO Verein für Originalgrafik, Zürich

Universitätsspital Basel, Chirurgische Abteilung


Universitätsspital Basel, Frauenspital


Universitätsspital Basel, Frauenspital

Hoffmann La Roche Kunstsammlung, Basel