“Momentary Intentions”: An Exhibition by Manu Manjesh Lal 


The Art Residency Centre (ARC) at Linnaeus, Sanitas in Gaborone, is abuzz with artistic fervour as it hosts a solo exhibition by Manu Manjesh Lal titled “Momentary Intentions” that

opened to the public on 15 June and will remain until 30 June 2024.

Curated by the versatile and renowned artist, Ann Gollifer, this exhibition invites viewers to explore themes of consciousness, momentary intentionality, historicity and personal narrativity through a diverse collection of large paintings, intricate drawings, and evocative sculptures.

A Conscious Exploration through Art

In an exclusive interview with Time Out, Lal explained how the themes of consciousness and momentary intentionality manifest in his works, particularly citing a piece titled “Hell Panel (after Bosch).”

Lal appropriates Hieronymus Bosch’s 500-year-old depiction of hell, blending it with automatic, intuitive drawing to explore how objects of consciousness interact within us.

“I believe that this two-fold aspect of consciousness, when engaged together, can create a cognitive dissonance that challenges the originality and authorship of the artwork and creates nuances of expression,” he said.

This is an artist who aims for an intellectual approach that uses the visual arts to define and understand consciousness within the context of human ingenuity.

Evolution of Artistic Practice

While “Momentary Intentions” is Lal’s first solo exhibition in Botswana, he has previously showcased solo exhibitions in South Africa. Reflecting on his 30-year career, he noted:

“Over the last decade, my artistic practice has taken a direction that incorporates more conceptual underpinning to generate meaningful outcomes. This approach is quite evident in the show through the works.”

Balancing Roles as Artist and Educator

As the head of arts at Westwood International School in Gaborone, Lal balances his roles as an educator and a practising artist seamlessly. “My artistic practice informs my teaching, and my teaching influences my creative engagement and studio practice,” he explained.

“The theoretical content of my teaching, particularly within the frameworks of the International Baccalaureate Curriculum, allows me to develop key concepts and contextualise them towards specific inquiries.”

This dynamic interaction enhances creativity and keeps his teaching fresh and engaging.

Capturing Fleeting Moments and Personal Histories

One of the standout pieces in the exhibition is “Number 48,” which Lal described as a multi-faceted metaphor for the intricate psychology of the human experience.

“It symbolises capturing the incremental journey of comprehension as we peel away layers of consciousness,” he said. “It embodies transition, representing the shifts from one state of mind to another, revealing the beauty of fluidity in our emotional landscapes.”

This work celebrates the ever-evolving nature of our inner worlds, offering a visual exploration of understanding, transition, energy and progress.

Visitor Responses and Cultural Influences

Lal expressed immense delight in the responses from visitors, noting that their engagement with his artworks has led some to their own self-discovery. “I believe that their responses were their own self-discovery towards the possibilities of generating awareness through conceptual engagement with visual art as a medium,” he said.

Living and working in Botswana for 24 years has profoundly influenced Lal’s artistic themes and techniques. “The profound Tswana culture that provides a peaceful living has definitely enriched my creative being,” he said of this connection.

“The transitional phase that I personally encountered through migration contributed to a hybridised outlook derived through a dual lens of two great cultures – Tswana and Indian.”

“Momentary Intentions” comprises eight artworks made up of five paintings, two sculptures and one drawing. Some of these captivating pieces are available for sale, offering art enthusiasts an opportunity to own a fragment of Lal’s profound artistic journey.