DESMOND LAZARO | ‘THE IN-COMING PASSENGERS’
March 10 - April 16, 2016
Lazaro’s work reinvents miniature painting, the tradition he was trained in. His is a boundary-pushing art that makes this traditional craft seem especially current. Born in Leeds in 1968, Lazaro came to India in 1990 to study at the art school of Baroda. There, he became obsessed with the miniature paintings of Rajasthan and went to train for twelve years in Jaipur under late master painter Bannu Ved Pal Sharma. Lazaro chose to appropriate a craft that is alien to British art education and to deploy it to describe the world around him. Though he has previously worked on documentaries, this is the first time that Lazaro presents a film together with his paintings.
‘The In-Coming Passengers’ opens up new lines of enquiry. This body of work builds, not on the observations of anonymous scenes and quotidian objects, on which Lazaro previously focused, but on the artist’s family history and the reworking of official records and found material.
This archival investigation first started in 2013 with works that reconfigure the baptism certificate of Peter Lazaro, the great-grandfather of the artist who lived in Madras. Most of Lazaro’s work is about distance. It relies on the acute observation of the outsider. The distance comes partly from using a visual language, that of pichvai and miniature painting, to depict contemporary objects. But his subject position also establishes bridges between his family history and other experiences of migration. Instead of closing in on narratives of the self, Lazaro’s new body of work posits the experience of migration as a common but also complex phenomenon that links the histories of societies across the world. Lazaro oscillates between the individual and the collective, the human and the cosmic.
Part I of ‘The In-Coming Passengers’ charts the migration in the 1950s of Lazaro’s family from Burma, where both his Indian paternal and maternal families settled in the nineteenth century, to England.
Part II of ‘The In-Coming Passengers’ chronicles the life of his family in 1960s and 1970s Britain.
Part III of ‘The In-Coming Passengers’ thus opens up on present-day migration and on imaginary homelands.
Desmond Lazaro (b. 1968) Leeds, United Kingdom
He has held solo exhibitions at galleries such as Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai, India; Beck and Eggeling, Dusseldorf, Germany; Ben Brown Fine Arts, London, United Kingdom.
Selected participations include, The Gates of the Lord, Art Institute of Chicago, 2015-2016; Aesthetic Bind: Floating World, Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai, 2014; Materials and techniques of pigment painting, Mseum Rietberg, Zurich, 2004; Arte Fiera, Bologna, 2010; Museum of Asiatic, Nice, 2003; Pichhvai Painting, Royal Commonwealth Society, London, British High Commission, New Delhi, 2000;
The artist lives and works in Pondicherry.