Lavar Munroe: Devil in a White City

20 May - 4 June 2016

Jack Bell Gallery is pleased to present a new body of large-scale paintings by Lavar Munroe. ‘Devil in a White City’ follows his recent solo exhibition at the SCAD Museum of Art, USA. This will be the artist’s second solo show with the gallery in London.


Munroe 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. Munroe’s paintings function as a reflection on the environment of his upbringing and draw from memory the crude graffiti that surrounded his street. The artist 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. The artist explores a number of social stereotypes in order to critique and challenge disparities that cut across gender, race, class, and age. In this new series of paintings he presents his subjects as devils and points to those deemed to be devils in current affaires. ‘The over-arching narrative is the destruction and mayhem in the world today’, he says, ‘a world cloaked and tarnished by evil’. The works play on art history and its representations of the devil as well as revisiting notions of the devil as trickster.


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.


Lavar Munroe


Born 1982 in Nassau, Bahamas, Munroe now lives and works in Washington, USA. In 2007 he graduated from a 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. Munroe was included in ‘All the World’s Futures’, curated by Okwui Enwezor, at the 2015 Venice Biennale. The SCAD Museum of Art, USA, has recently hosted a solo exhibition of his work entitled ‘Journey Elsewhere: Musings from a Boundless Zoo’. Munroe 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, a Post Doc Fellowship at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and most recently a Joan Mitchell Foundation Artist in Residence Program.