The Embellished Lens : Rajni Perera

28 August - 25 September 2015


The series Maharajas, which is accompanied by an audio interview per portrait, explores the workings of contemporary masculinity, the blurring line of gender involved in male representation, and each subject’s view on these issues. These views may or may not be represented in their respective portraits. There is an exploration of surreal fashion, and the influences of idolatry, iconic imagery and miniaturist aesthetics are expressed through this body of work. These six portraits are a continuation of the series Maharanis and a continued attempt at contemporizing embellished photography



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



The diptych Royal Couple touches on aspects of colonial monarch portraiture while taking it into the realm of the surreal by exaggerating the glamour of 17th century court photographs. Performing and capturing the Maharaja, what would be in contemporary times the tricky balance of machismo and 10 pounds of jewellery, the pieces aim to reside in the space between comfort in a floating world and radiating virile power to the public eye, a spectacle. 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. The medium of self-portraiture and portraiture is investigated as a window into the practices of the glitterati who commissioned a lot of the first portraiture around turn of the century India. By heightening the aspect of glamour into absurdity, the image of the monarch becomes elevated to the semi-divine and the connection between themselves and the public become sinuous, the gaze a downward / upward power play. The stage is set.


View the E-Catalogue 

Installation Views