Desmond Lazaro is a painter who was born in Leeds, U.K. After travelling to India to pursue his MFA at the MSU Baroda, Lazaro became captivated with the historic Pichhvai painting traditions of Rajasthan and began a life long journey of preserving them. He mastered miniature painting techniques by studying for twelve years under Jaipur Master Banu Ved Pal Sharma, one of the few living experts on this ancient tradition. Lazaro also submitted a PhD thesis on the Pichhvai painting tradition at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London. Lazaro’s honour of tradition extends to his stringent preparation of the pigments, papers and cloth that he uses in his creative process. He follows the ancient tradition of creating pigments by hand from semi-precious mineral stone (such as Lapis and malachite), organic material (from vegetables, insects or plants), by chemical process, and from soft earth deposits such as yellow ochre.
While his working methods and hand-crafted painting utensils are firmly anchored in Indian tradition, Lazaro’s subjects are thoroughly contemporary, often looking at stories of migration and belonging. All his objects and figures are part of a culturally entangled iconography and reflect his experiences of a multicultural existence. His works deal with the poles of East and West, the sacred and the secular, and the traditional and contemporary.
Lazaro’s recent works have been inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s non-hierarchical approach to geography, in which there is no up or down, north or south. Fuller’s Dymaxion map was published in 1943 as a DIY kit in Life magazine constituted of eight triangles and six squares. This mental construction is based on an alternative comprehension of the world, which abandons the Mercator projection and its use of the equator as the reference line. Its aim is to minimise the distortions of conventional representations of the earth and their embedded cultural biases. His works reimagine Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion maps as Gilded Icons for the 21st century. These highly detailed world maps use the Raised Water Gold Gilding method developed within the Christian Icon and biblical ‘Carpet Pages’ tradition. The ‘raise’ gives a full thick body of Gold; a technique he learned from the Christian Orthodox artist Christabelle Anderson in London.
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