Lavar Munroe: Laird Street Apostles

3 - 25 September 2020

Press preview: Thursday 3 September, 11 am - 1 pm.

Exhibition open by appointment.

 

Jack Bell Gallery is pleased to present a group of paintings by contemporary artist Lavar Munroe. This will be Munroe’s sixth solo show at the gallery.

 

In this new series, Munroe creates portraits of family members in his hometown Nassau, Bahamas. The title of the exhibition, ‘Laird Street Apostles’, borrows from the name of the street where the artist grew up. The canvases depict Munroe’s male cousins, each placed in a scenario most related to their character. They touch on a myriad of references and question identity, mythology and popular culture. Art historically, the works could be said to recall artists such as Philip Guston, Francis Bacon, Max Beckman and Hieronymus Bosch. 

 

The repetition of police sashes and dogs point to notions of security and protection, a constant awareness that is part of everyday life in the Bahamas. Protection also refers to various structures within society such as militias, tribes, brotherhoods, fraternities, armies, political parties and gangs. Religion, in particular Christianity, is constant in this work. Gold, white and transparent ghosts, along with renderings of crosses appear frequently. Besides playing on his Christian upbringing, the artist is interested in reinterpreting and critiquing such institutions and the structure of its teachings. The titles are all borrowed from or reference bible passages. 

 

Munroe was born in the impoverished, stigmatised and often marginalised Grants Town community. In 2004, he moved to the United States at the age of 21. The artist's work functions as a reflection of his early environment, drawing from memory the crude graffiti on the walls that surrounded his home. Munroe maps a personal journey of survival and trauma in a world of gang violence, drugs, murder, self-discovery, development and overcoming obstacles through self-determination. Though inspired by the past, his loud, energetic and unapologetic visual language confronts contemporary society and the strained and difficult relationships between authority and people of the ghetto.

 

Munroe works between Baltimore, USA and Nassau Bahamas. Recent exhibitions include shows at the Perez Art Museum Miami, 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.