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A Sri Lankan born artist whose work floats between Western and Immigrant culture, Perera’s work is an East-West dialogue of ideas, concerning immigrant identity issues, female sexuality, and science fiction and fantasy. Based in Toronto, Perera has exhibited her work internationally and will present her second solo at Saskia Fernando Gallery from December 23 to January 20, 2017.

The artist began her creative process by photographing her subject and then working on the image ‘embellishing’ the portrait using miniature painting techniques. The first series of these works was exhibited at Saskia Fernando Gallery in 2015, the series Maharajas was accompanied by an audio interview per portrait, exploring the workings of contemporary masculinity, the blurring line of gender involved in male representation, and each subject’s view on these issues. The six portraits were a continuation of the series Maharanis and a continued attempt at contemporizing embellished photography.

The second part of the series, Maharanis, the concept of the spectacle was exaggerated to produce a series of images that comment on the kitschy, glitzy side of Western media’s interpretation of the East, which responded in kind by re-appropriating its own projected image. The series was also an exploration in divinizing monarchy and the fabrication of the divine through an embellished-photography lens.

In early 2016 Perera exhibited two works at Art Dubai titled the Royal Couple. The diptych touched on aspects of colonial monarch portraiture while taking it into the realm of the surreal by exaggerating the glamour of 17th Century court photographs. The subjects perform the role of King only with imaginary surroundings; there is no base for them to visualize the glimmering backdrops of their seats at the throne, the beginnings of a contemporary embellished photograph.

In this new series of work Perera explores issues of hybridity, sacrilege, irreverence, the indexical sciences, ethnography, gender, sexuality, popular culture, deities, monsters and dream worlds. All of these themes marry in a newly objectified realm of mythical symbioses.

‘The Surreal Body’ by Rajni Perera will be open to the public from December 23 to January 20, 2017 at Saskia Fernando Gallery, Colombo 7.

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