Guardians of Humanity

August 5 – September 15, 2017

Ralph Lazar’s work reflects on current events and contemporary life. Roll Up Project is pleased to display two works: “Lyle / Guardians of Humanity,” and “Reconstitution.”

“Reconstitution” takes inspiration from the 2016 U.S. election and its rippling effects. The piece pulls the 4,543 words of the US Constitution into individual bubbles, which are randomly ordered on two panels. Finding meaning in the words is an enduring challenge that all citizens face, and politics may shape or be shaped by this lasting text.

Lazar gives the viewer room to interpret the text and imagine a meaning that may represent the Americans of today. In his words: “Whose interpretation will prevail? The NRA or The Sierra Club? Hamilton or Madison? We the People or the 1%? Or my own – an artist reinventing the Constitution as Art.”

“Lyle / Guardians of Humanity” is featured in the main Roll Up Project window. Several black and white figures shaped like bell jars, ranging in scale from three to seven feet tall, peer out at the viewer with wide eyes and toothy smiles. Lazar describes the Lyles as Panglossian figures, hopelessly optimistic despite the circumstances. In 2015, Lazar started creating these sculptures as cheerful companions. Lately, he considers them Guardians of Humanity, reminding the viewer that decency still exists, but needs to be protected.

Born in Johannesburg, Ralph Lazar studied law & economics at the University of Cape Town and the London School of Economics. After graduation he joined the Global Strategy team at Goldman Sachs in London. He later joined CSFB’s proprietary bond-trading team. With a focus on monetary and exchange rate policy, he visited 36 countries in this role. After 6 years in financial markets, along with his artist wife-to-be Lisa Swerling, he moved to Ile au Cerf in the Seychelles (population of 52) where they started their illustration licensing business Last Lemon.

Through Last Lemon they have sold more than a million books in over 20 languages and have garnered a plethora of prizes and accolades, including a New York Times Bestseller. He now lives in Marin with Lisa and his children. He has also lived in Nice, Buenos Aires, Paris, Moscow and Oxford.


Learn more about Ralph Lazar’s work at his website.


Lyle / Guardians of Humanity, 2015 – 2017
paint on hardboard
dimensions variable, 3 – 7 feet high
Lyle / Guardians of Humanity, 2015 – 2017
paint on hardboard
dimensions variable, 3 – 7 feet high


Reconstitution, 2016
paint on cardboard
89 x 74 inches
detail of Reconstitution, 2016