Rajni Perera. Futures

Curator : Sarah Milroy, Chief Curator, McMichael Canadian Art Collection

From June 15 2024 to September 8 2024

About —

Rajni Perera is one of Canada’s most promising contemporary multimedia artists. Experimenting with mediums as varied as painting, sculpture and photography, the Toronto-based artist expresses her vision of imagined futures in which mutated subjects exist in dystopian realms. Early examples of Perera’s mutated goddesses will be displayed in concert with her more recent abstractions and sculptures. Drawing deeply on the artistic traditions of her birthplace, Sri Lanka, as well as Indian miniature painting, medieval armour, and science fiction, Perera has created a body of work that spans feminist and diasporic themes, while contemplating survival in an environmentally degraded future. Her work responds to existential threats with creativity and invention, offering a vision charged with humour and sharp critique, hope and dread. Underscored by current global affairs and accelerated climate change, Perera’s vision is as timely as it is compelling.

Futures is curated by McMichael Chief Curator Sarah Milroy and includes works from all phases of the artist’s career, including new pieces made specifically for Perera’s McMichael exhibition. Exclusively for the iteration at the Musée d’art de Joliette, works from her latest series titled Phylogeny will also be presented. The accompanying publication features an interview of the artist by Milroy, as well as essays by leading international literary figures Fariha Roisin and Britt Wray.

Biographies —

The work of Sri Lanka-born artist Rajni Perera explores diasporic mythology through the lens of science fiction. Drawing upon her own rich visual experience of immigrant culture, and her environmental concerns arising from colonialism and the ravages of profit-driven resource extraction, she imagines an off-world that is triumphant.

This spring, her work will be presented in duo at the Phi Foundation, followed by a solo exhibition at the Musée d’art de Joliette. Her work has previously been exhibited at the McMichael (Kleinburg, Canada, 2022-2023), Temple Contemporary (Philadelphia USA, 2022), Jeffrey Deitch (Los Angeles, 2022), National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa, Canada, 2021), Glasgow Tramway (Glasgow, Scotland, 2020), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Toronto, Canada, 2018), The Museum of Moder Art (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), the art Gallery of York University (Toronto, Canada, 2017), the Colombo Art Biennale (Edinburgh, UK, 2017). The Art Gallery of Ontario acquired and exhibited one of her artworks in 2019.

Sarah Milroy is the Chief Curator of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinberg, Ontario, Canada’s only museum devoted exclusively to Canadian and Indigenous art, and co-curator of the exhibition Meryl McMaster: Bloodline. Previously, Milroy served as editor/publisher of Canadian Art magazine and as lead art critic of the Globe and Mail. Her major touring exhibitions include From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia (2010), David Milne: Modern Painting (2018), and Uninvited; Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Moment (2021), a landmark exhibition of Canadian and Indigenous women artists in the inter-war period. In 2020, Milroy was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

This exhibition is organized and circulated by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection with support from Canada Council for the Arts.

Images in the banner:

© Rajni Perera, Storm (detail), 2020, mixed media on marbled paper, 76.2 × 61 cm. James McKellar. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Patel Brown

© Rajni Perera, Seated Sentinel (detail), 2019, mixed media on paper, 50.8 × 40.6 cm. David Heden. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Patel Brown

© Rajni Perera, Flood (detail), 2020, mixed media on marbled paper, 76.2 × 61 cm. Collection of Robin and Malcolm Anthony. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Patel Brown

© Rajni Perera, Traveller 5 (detail), 2019, mixed media on paper, 152.4 × 101.6 cm. Royal Bank of Canada Art Collection, commissioned by the RBC Curatorial Department. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Patel Brown