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Kirthana Selvaraj The green suit, a self-portrait

oil on canvas

150.2 x 90.1 cm

‘My body is political, it holds multiple truths, I am at once femme, queer and brown – a site for violence, transgressions, tenderness and joy,’ says Kirthana Selvaraj.

‘Focusing on how the queer, brown body navigates the duality of both enunciation and erasure within Western society, I chose to paint a self-portrait to visually reconcile these intersections of the seen and unseen. My expression reveals both my defiance and my pain.

‘The arch embodies a threshold into a liminal place, while the green suit demands space within it. My body resists the narrow canvas and symbolically challenges the rigidity of institutions that carry colonial legacies. Despite these oppressive systems, I am also governed by a politics of tenderness and survival. This is seen in the vibrant and saturated colours that refuse to be supressed.

‘By reimagining my body in this context, I not only want to subvert the colonial gaze, but also dream of an existence beyond the Eurocentric perceptions that still dominate our culture. This work embodies a divestment of the fetishising of brown bodies and an investment in a pulsating, queer, brown imaginary.’

Selvaraj’s self-portrait was also a finalist in the 2020 Portia Geach Memorial Award.

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