Raja is a Sudanese Artist who currently resides with her family in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. She is one of the few women permitted to study at the College of Finer and Applied Art at Sudan University of Science and Technology in Khartoum Sudan, during the early 1990’s. She graduated from the Institution in 1994. With her artist Husband, and their family, she began a ten-year migratory journey that took them through Norway, Wales, France and Egypt, before they finally found a home in Pietermaritzburg. In 2004 she began a postgraduate diploma in Fine Art which she completed in 2006 at the Centre for Visual Arts at the University of KwaZulu- Natal.
Her paintings are an expression of her life experiences, and the experiences of Sudanese women, who grow up in a Male dominated culture in which few opportunities exist for women, many of whom are exposed to oppression, pain and suffering on a daily basis.
Her early work expresses the poverty and violent abuse that these women and children experience, and in some paintings, the visceral horror of rape and sexual abuse that some have suffered. Her work is impressionist with figurative elements that document their surroundings. With passage of time, however, she has allowed her work to move towards the more abstract.
Her more recent work has her looking to move in a new direction, as if she is has emerged from the darkness of her experiences in Sudan to the joy and light offered by her new experiences in her new home. She describes herself as having emerged from the desert, literally and figuratively – searching for a way to experience the joy in painting.
Her current work explores colour, texture, shape and design, drawing from the rich profusion of colour she finds in her new South African environment. Her figurative work depicts more contented women, with a beauty and softness not seen in her earlier work. Her abstract works are a mix of soft colours, differing materials and motifs layered to form a satisfying whole.
In her own Words – “I enjoy adding texture to my surfaces and designing the shape and discovering new adventures, it is surprising every time you get a different varied outcome. I make my own material, since I feel like this is an essential step in the process. I weave strips of canvas material together to make my own sort of canvas, with its own specialized texture and response to the paint. When I rub my cloth ‘tapestry’ layers with cloths dripped in paint, it adds another dimension to my work. It begins to mix and overlap, different materials and layers of paint reveal hints of colour coming through the edges, layers and spaces.”
Raja has exhibited in a number of South African Galleries, as well as Galleries in Norway, France, and Wales.