Oscar Murillo

34 images Created 22 Jun 2023

Oscar Murillo, artist, photographed in his studio in North London. Oscar Murillo (born 1986 in La Paila, Colombia) is an artist working within the painting tradition. He currently lives and works in various locations.
In 2019, Oscar Murillo co-won the Turner Prize after requesting with his fellow nominees (Tai Shani, Helen Cammock, and Lawrence Abu Hamdan) that the jury award the prize for the first time to all four nominated artists. Oscar Murillo works across painting, installation, and performance, often using draped black canvases, large-scale paintings composed of stitched-together fragments, and metal structures evoking autopsy tables and rock-like sculptures formed of corn and clay. His practice can be understood as a sustained and evolving investigation of community, informed by his cross-cultural personal ties between Colombia and the UK.
His work has been compared to that of Alberto Burri, Philip Guston, and the Abstract Expressionists for its use of colour, line, and physicality. Major bodies of work include his News series, the Manifestation series, and the Surge works, all of which combine expressive mark-making with scale and colour.
Since 2013, through his ongoing collaborative project Frequencies, Murillo has worked with schools across the globe, placing pieces of raw canvas on schools students' desks and inviting them to draw and write on, mark and illustrate them. To date, thousands of students, primarily aged 10 to 16, have participated. The canvases are added to a growing archive, selections of which have been exhibited at the 56th Venice Biennale, Italy, the 2nd Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art 2016, China and 3rd Aichi Triennial, Japan, and with arts organisation Artangel in 2021. Speaking about the project, Murillo has said ‘The idea is to let these kids explore in the intimate reality of the school desk, to make marks of their own desires’. To date, the project has made more than 60,000 canvases from 35 different countries. The project has formed the basis for a number of Murillo’s paintings and further projects, such as his Disrupted Frequencies canvases.
Another ongoing theme throughout Murillo's work concerns postcolonial and socioeconomic disparities. In his work The Coming of the Europeans (2017), a large-scale banner conceived for the inaugural Kathmandu Triennale in the same year, he commented on the continuing legacy of colonialism in present-day international fairs. The artist often invites contrasting socio-economic tensions within his work. In 2012, Murillo held a party for the cleaners at the Serpentine Galleries; in 2014, the artist brought Colombian factory workers to perform labour in a New York gallery space, and, at a residency in a collector’s home in Rio de Janeiro the same year, himself working alongside domestic staff and exhibiting white overalls dirtied by his exertion.
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