Exhibitionists

Strong women, real bodies and representation: Step into Rajni Perera's visionary sci-fi universe

Perera creates powerful and sexy characters — who also happen to be affected by gravity, age and the elements.

Perera creates powerful and sexy characters — who are also affected by gravity, age and the elements

Step into the visionary scifi universe of artist Rajni Perera

6 years ago
Duration 3:45
From her mixed-media works referencing embellished photography to her paintings of mythological icons, Perera's world is one of bright colours, powerful symbolism and strong characters.

Artist Rajni Perera is a die-hard sci-fi fan. But she always noticed one glaring omission in the material she loved growing up in Sri Lanka: a lack of black and brown bodies. So in her own work, she began to create worlds populated by women of colour with real bodies — strong, sexy characters who are also affected by gravity, age and the elements.

From her mixed-media works referencing embellished photography to her paintings of mythological icons, Perera's world is one of bright colours, powerful symbolism and strong characters. She takes inspiration not only from the sci-fi shows she watched growing up but influences as far reaching as Japanese woodblock printing and paleontology.

In this video, filmed at Perera's Toronto studio, the artist talks about the ideas and influences behind her work as she offers a window into her process via a new painting for her show at Superchief Gallery in Brooklyn, New York.

Want to get to know Perera's work even better? Check out this 2016 interview with CBC Arts' Amanda Parris.

Watch Exhibitionists Sunday at 4:30pm (5pm NT) on CBC Television.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mercedes Grundy is a producer for CBC's Unscripted division. She has played an integral role in the creation of series like Exhibitionists, The Filmmakers and Canada's a Drag as well as special projects like Superqueeroes and The 2010s: The Decade Canadian Artists Stopped Saying Sorry. Collectively, these projects have won Grundy 5 Canadian Screen Awards. She has an educational background in photography, and produces film and theatre when not busy here at the CBC.

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