Lavar Munroe: Stranger In The Night

Jack Bell Gallery, London, United Kingdom
01 Oct 2019 - 18 Oct 2019

LAVAR MUNROE, “A Stranger,” 2019 (acrylic on unprimed canvas, 84 x 96 inches / 213.4 x 243.8 cm). | © Lavar Munroe, via Jack Bell Gallery

LAVAR MUNROE, “A Stranger,” 2019 (acrylic on unprimed canvas, 84 x 96 inches / 213.4 x 243.8 cm). | © Lavar Munroe, via Jack Bell Gallery

Jack Bell Gallery presents a solo exhibition of new paintings and sculptures by contemporary artist Lavar Munroe. This will be the artist’s fifth solo show at the gallery.

Most recently, I have been making work based on photo documents and artifacts collected over a four-year span from various cities in Senegal: Goree Island, Tambacounda, Saint Louis and the Sinthian Village. Sourcing from my morgue of photos, I have developed a series of fictitious narratives and characters known as The Redbones. The Redbones are a generation of young kids who are placed on the frontline as warriors by the wealthy within society. Ironic to the storyline is that The Redbones are a generation of kids from poverty-stricken areas recruited and hand selected to fight for freedom and justice for ALL. The kids march, protest and go to war simply as a rite of passage in hopes of one day being deemed hero by the wealthy within society. These works are not portraits of the kids from Senegal, and serve more so as representations and a voice for the misfortune of kids worldwide.

This body of work points to various notions and understandings surrounding rites of passage, institutional credence and service-based insurgencies. It points to child soldiers, juvenile detention units, prisons, fraternities and school yards among many other organized social groupings. I am interested in both the exploration and critique of such structures within society. Important to this work is the role of the uniforms in such structures. Growing up in the Bahamas under a British system of governance and education, uniforms were and still are prevalent within our society, to both distinguish and condemn individuals and groupings in various segments of society.  In such a society, where we are taught to follow specific codes beginning with our attire, the notion of constant servitude and answering to a headmaster is in play. In many ways I find this problematic, as it alludes to and promotes constant servitude which is indicative of our dark colonial past. It also points to societies both past and present where initiation and rites of passages signify becoming.

Intriguing and unique to this work is the play on opposites. The balance between real-life motifs placed within a fictional mode of presentation fuels the visual explosiveness of the work. I am also interested in the idea of contradicting understanding and skewing meaning within the work. I am fascinated in crossing boundaries that are governed by hierarchical structures within society. Through the manipulation of meaning as dictated by such structures, I rearticulate and challenge notions such as wealth and deprivation, honorable and shameful, man and animal.

Lavar Munroe b.1982, Nassau Bahamas, works between Germantown MD and Nassau Bahamas. His work is currently on exhibit at the Perez Art Museum Miami. Recent exhibitions include shows at the National Gallery of Bahamas, Nassau, MAXXI Museum of Art, Rome, Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, and the Meadows Museum of Art, Louisiana. Works have been included in previous exhibitions at ‘Prospect 4’ triennial, New Orleans, directed by Trevor Schoonmaker, ‘All the World’s Futures’, 56th Venice Biennale, curated by Okwui Enwezor, 12th Dakar biennale, curated by Simon Njami, Orlando Museum of Art, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and SCAD Museum of Art among others.




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