moniquemeloche is pleased to present Lavar Munroe, Sometime Come to Someplace. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Munroe, a Bahamian artist, works with acrylic and mixed media on unstretched canvas, often incorporating sentimental objects and materials such as beads, jewelry, ceramic tiles, glass, textiles, chicken hides, and feathers. His work is described as a hybrid medium between painting and relief sculpture and reflects the environment where he grew up. Munroe was born 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. Drawing from memory and local folklore, Munroe’s work uses bold visual language to map a personal journey of trauma and survival.
In his new series, Munroe centers on their recent travel to Zimbabwe, exploring the cultural similarities between the Caribbean and southern Africa. Sometime Come to Someplace, a line spoken by Dorothy in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, references the notion of a journey and feeling at home in a foreign place. Using the land of Oz as a conceptual framework, Munroe considers the parallels between both countries as places that are rich in social, political, and mythological histories. The artist’s material exploration and unique visual language viscerally captures his experience of late nights spent under the stars, conversing and dancing to the familiar sounds of steel drums around a crackling fire. Fire–often the night’s only source of light and heat–represents the collective energy of the subjects who have been brought together by the element, their bodies in musical harmony with the cosmos. The tonal hues of bright orange, pink and fire red are juxtaposed against the subdued color palette of green, gray, blue, and purple; a landscape influenced by the blackness of vast plateaus energetic with nocturnal wildlife. In contrast to Munroe’s previous works, the paintings are contained within the confines of the canvas, like doorways which allow viewers to walk from one space to the next. For Munroe, home is here and elsewhere, an elusive double entity that is unbound yet inextricably linked to the uprooted self. Taken together, the works on view embody the journey, magic, love, and celebration of escape through fantastical and dreamlike imagery. Sometime Come to Someplace is a story about finding friendship away from home, courage, and human flourishing against the odds.
Lavar Munroe (b.1982, Nassau, Bahamas) earned his BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design (2007), an MFA in Studio Art at Washington University, St. Louis (2013); and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2013). He was awarded a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (2014-2016), the Benny Andrews Fellow from the MacDowell Colony (2016), and The Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill NC (2014). Institutional group exhibitions include The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (2022); Ichihara Lakeside Museum (2020); Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, VA (2020); Pérez Art Museum Miami, FL (2019); and Nasher Museum of Art, Durham, NC (2015). Lavar Munroe was selected for Trevor Schoonmaker’s Prospect.4 New Orleans (2017) and Okwui Enwzor’s 56th Venice Biennale, as well as the Dak’art Biennale (2016). Recent notable solo and two person exhibitions include Jack Bell Gallery, London, England (2022); Jenkins Johnson Gallery, CA (2018); and NOMAD, Brussels, Belgium (2017). Munroe’s work is currently included in the group exhibitions When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting at Zeitz MOCAA, South Africa (2022-23) and A Gateway to Possible Worlds at Centre Pompidou-Metz, France (2022-23). His work is in the public collections of Fondation de France; Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Genève, Switzerland; The Studio Museum of Harlem, NY; The Central Bank of the Bahamas; The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas; and the MAXXI Museum, Rome.
He is the recipient of honors and awards including the Sondheim Artscape Prize Finalist (2021), Distinguished Alums Award from Sam Fox School of Art and Design from Washington University of St. Louis (2018), Sam Fox Dean’s Initiative Fund (2013), Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant (2013), Joan Mitchell Foundation Scholarship (2012), The Kraus Family Foundation Award (2011), and The National Endowment for the Arts Grant (2011). Munroe lives and works between Baltimore, MD, and the Bahamas.