Jack Bell Gallery is pleased to present Grants Town Trickster, an exhibition of large-scale paintings by Lavar Munroe.
Munroe was born and grew up in the impoverished, stigmatized and often marginalized Grants Town community in Nassau, Bahamas. In 2004, he moved to the United States at the age of 21. This body of paintings functions as a reflection of the environment of Munroe’s upbringing, and draws from memory the crude graffiti on the walls that surrounded his street. His work 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, Munroe’s loud, energetic and unapologetic visual language confronts contemporary society and the strained and difficult relationships between authority and people of the ghetto.
As well as tapping his own experiences, much of Munroe’s practice comprises research that is informed by critical investigation and theories surrounding mythology and literature. Referencing Joseph Cambell’s ‘The Hero’s Journey’, Elaine Brown’s book ‘The Condemnation of Little B’ and Stanley “Tookie” Williams’ memoir, ‘Blue Rage, Black Redemption’, Munroe explores a number of social stereotypes in order to critique and challenge disparities that cut across gender, race, class, and age.
Though framed in fictional narratives, my work explores and in many ways critiques real life situations that I have either personally experienced or encountered through research. Oftentimes I am reminded of the underlying darkness that reoccurred in childhood fables – in a sense, drawing a parallel to the menacing motifs that occur in my work.
Born 1982 in Nassau, Bahamas, Munroe now lives and works in Washington, USA. In 2007 he graduated from Bachelors of Fine Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design, and in 2013 he earned an MA in Fine Art at Washington University, St. Louis. In 2010, Munroe represented The Bahamas in the country’s first and only appearance at the Liverpool Biennale. He is an alumnus of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and has been awarded a number of prestigious prizes including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painting and Sculpture Grant, a Fountainhead Residency and most recently a Post Doc Fellowship at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.