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Rajni Perera and Marigold Santos, Efflorescence/The Way We Wake (detail), 2023. Polymer clay, styrofoam, paint, metallic powder, synthetic hair, pearls, steel, aluminum, floral foam, paper, plastic, 152.4 x 243.8 x 121.9 cm. Photo: Mikhail Mishin. Courtesy of the artists and Patel Brown Gallery

Rajni Perera and Marigold Santos: Efflorescence/The Way We Wake

  • Exhibition
  • Free
  • Contemporary Art
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PHI Foundation 451 Saint-Jean Street
Montréal, Québec H2Y 2R5

We also invite you to visit the exhibition Sonia Boyce: FEELING HER WAY, presented in our second building, 465 Saint-Jean Street.

May 3, 2023—September 8, 2024
Wednesday to Friday: 12 PM—7 PM
Saturday and Sunday: 11 AM—6 PM

Opening Reception

Thursday, May 2, 2024
5:30 PM to 7:30 PM

Free admission
Reservations are not required

Warning: The exhibition addresses many themes, including maternity and women’s empowerment. Some of the works presented contain nudity. Viewer discretion is advised.


The PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art is pleased to present Rajni Perera and Marigold Santos: Efflorescence/The Way We Wake.

In 2020, the PHI Foundation presented a major group show called RELATIONS: Diaspora and Painting, which included the work of Rajni Perera and Marigold Santos.  When Perera visited the exhibition and encountered Santos’s paintings for the first time, she felt an instant, deeply resonant connection. This moment of mutual recognition sparked the beginning of a relationship that would manifest itself in Perera’s invitation to Santos to collaborate on a duo presentation at The Armory Show in New York, in September of 2023. As one of the very best offerings at this thirty-year-old art fair, it was the spark that ignited the organization of this exhibition.

Born in 1985 in Sri Lanka, Rajni Perera was raised between Colombo, Sydney and then Scarborough and North York, Ontario. Her work explores hybridity, futurity, ancestorship, migrant and marginalized identities/cultures, monsters, and dream worlds. These areas of inquiry are embraced through a multi-disciplinary practice that includes painting, drawing, and sculpture, and incorporates materials such as clay, wood, textile, and most recently, synthetic taxidermy. Subverting oppressive discourses related to the idea of the “Other,” the beings and objects she creates are invested with power, dignity, and heroism.

Marigold Santos was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Canada in 1988. Her early childhood experience of immigration provides a starting point for her work that investigates the interrelated notions of “home” and the multiplicity of an identity in constant evolution, to ultimately explore the potentialities of transformation. Through an interdisciplinary practice that includes drawn, painted, and printed works, sculpture, tattooing, and sound, Santos creates a personal mythology. In her otherworldly environments that transcend time and place, hybrid creatures are capable of thriving in the precarious realm of the “in between.”

Inhabiting the 451 Saint-Jean Street building, this duo exhibition showcases recent painting and sculpture produced by each artist from 2021 to 2024 and begins with the collaborative piece after which the show is named. Efflorescence/The Way We Wake speaks to the artist's diasporic experiences, research into their respective cultural heritages, art making, and motherhood. This large-scale sculpture consists of a masked humanoid, with a larger-than-life body whose legs are detached and splayed out in an impossible position, while the arms prop up the torso with the help of elongated breasts. On and around the body are small, flourishing outgrowths of fabricated plants and flowers. The mask, hands, and breast points are richly ornamented, and the eyes gaze out with purpose and fierce calm. Fashioned from a large variety of materials, including polymer clay and styrofoam, as well as metallic powder, synthetic hair, pearls, and floral foam, this work was produced over the course of a mere six, albeit marathon work sessions in Montréal during the summer of 2023. This major work welcomes us in, to contemplate and marvel at their distinct and shared cosmologies.

Presenting over thirty works, this exhibition is organized for us to appreciate each artist’s individual practices and to revel in their formal and conceptual affinities. What emanates throughout are vibrations of female power, that reverberate with instincts towards constant care, protection and the honouring of each of their personal stories and heritages. Through many entry points, Efflorescence/The Way We Wake invites us into a pantheon of kindred spirits.


Portrait Rajni Perera

Rajni Perera

Rajni Perera was born in Sri Lanka in 1985 and lives and works in Toronto. Perera seeks to open and reveal the dynamism of the icons, beings, and objects she creates by means of a subversive aesthetic that counteracts antiquated, oppressive discourse, and acts as a restorative force. Her art has been exhibited nationally and internationally at the McMichael Gallery, PHI Foundation (Montréal), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Toronto), The National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the Gwangju Biennale (South Korea), Colomboscope (Sri Lanka), and Eastside Projects (UK) among others. She is in numerous collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, the McMicheal Canadian Art Collection, and the Sobey Foundation. She was awarded the Sauer Art Prize at the Armory Show in 2023, was the recipient of the MOCA Toronto Award in 2022, and was the Ontario region finalist for the Sobey Art Award in 2021.
Portrait Marigold Santos

Marigold Santos

Marigold Santos was born in the Philippines, and immigrated with her family to Canada in 1988. She pursues an interdisciplinary art practice that examines notions of heritage, folklore, motherwork, and decolonization presented within the otherworldly. Her paintings, drawings, sculptures, and tattoo work explores self-hood and identity that embraces multiplicity, fragmentation, and empowerment, as informed by diasporic experiences. She holds a BFA from the University of Calgary, and an MFA from Concordia University. As a recipient of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec, she continues to exhibit widely across Canada.

Audio Guide

  • Introduction

  • G1: Rajni Perera & Marigold Santos

  • G2: Rajni Perera

  • G3: Rajni Perera & Marigold Santos

  • G4: Marigold Santos

  • Conclusion

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