Murillo’s work looks beyond any form of identity politics but is nevertheless channelled through his own biography and the history of his family and ancestry. Dealing with mercantile histories and the present worldwide realities they continue to shape, and with themes of migration and the global exchange of people and goods, questions of class and precarity in our globalized capitalist system resonate with increasing intensity in his work.
coming to painting
Carlos/Ishikawa showing in the Art Basel OVR: Pioneers
24-28 March 2021
Carlos/Ishikawa is proud to present recent works by Oscar Murillo for OVR: Pioneers. The presentation explores Oscar Murillo’s innovative approach towards understanding artistic practice through labour and action. These major works are made available for the first time, having recently been exhibited at Kunstverein Hamburg and at the artist’s Turner Prize nominated exhibition at Kettle’s Yard
Oscar Murillo in conversation with César García-Alvarez, Founder & Director of The Mistake Room, LA, Cocurator Desert X 2021
Thursday 25 March 2021, 10am Bogotá (COT) / 3pm London (GMT)
The reason I bring it up in relation to the title of the show is this constant reminder of difference, cultural difference, different temperatures, and different attitudes. I think together these two words, violent amnesia, inevitably speak of the current moment – the current moment, one can say, everywhere, or globally. The title actually comes from a work which I started in 2014 and completed in 2018 […]
Looking at the painting Violent Amnesia now, some of the sections come from a different time, and I think it was important, particularly with this work, to make clear that it was a kind of process. It’s a constant jarring, a slippage, it can never be fully realised, it can never be fully imagined. Thinking of these two words together brings me to this idea of the catalyst, and of magnetic forces. It’s these two magnets that are always repelling each other. I think there is something about these two words together that is very tragic […]
With Violent Amnesia there’s this idea, as you can see graphically in the painting, that the world is upside down and the West is missing. North America is missing, and Europe is not there. Then you have this diagram of birds coming from the North and making their appearance throughout the plane of the picture, as if to suggest this idea of an invasion of sorts.
The title is me wanting to capture this idea of forgetting, but in a way that is not easy. I’m challenging the viewer from a grammatical point of view and from a point of view of imagination – how can these two words sit together? And then here we are, we find ourselves talking about politics, geopolitics and economics.
- Excerpted from a conversation between Oscar Murillo and Andrew Nairne, as part of the public programme for Oscar Murillo’s Turner Prize nominated exhibition Violent Amnesia at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, UK, Feb 2019
In a practice that encompasses performance, video, installation and painting, Murillo establishes “a porous border between the studio and the real world” (Okwui Enwezor) where “Murillo’s lifelong preoccupations — migration, trade, capital, family, settlement — mean that his work veritably vibrates with globalisation-anxiety” (Kritika Varagur).
In Murillo's work, the process of generative labour and accumulation serves as a conceptual framework for the collected images and references. “The sheer force of his expressionist gestures also suggests manual labor, the honest work done by paid laborers, as opposed to the speculative tinkering of the artist in the studio. Here Murillo is restoring to the individual gesture the potential political charge that mid-century American critics worked so hard to deny, as they made artists apolitical and converted Abstract Expressionism into a realm of pure aesthetics. Still, the dialectics driving the existential strain of action painting underpin even Murillo’s purportedly atemporal manoeuvres. This is clear in his description of Catalyst (2019), a work he created by placing an unstretched painted canvas on the floor, painted side down, on top of another one, and pressing on the back of the top canvas with a stick so that the impression of his marks is left on both. ‘I call it Catalyst,’ he says, ‘because it is about action, and reaction’” (Peter Benson Miller).
Murillo’s flight # drawings, which offer a record of the time that the artist has spent in transit. These ballpoint-pen drawings bring to mind a multilayered stream of consciousness, a complex chain of thoughts and information that records and documents the artist’s thought processes. Flying, which ensures a physical distance from the ground, creates a crack in time. However, since flight routes are determined by political landscapes thousands of metres below (national borders, travel and trade routes, etc.), the dynamics of flying are inextricably linked to the laws of the ground. Nevertheless, flight offers the artist the opportunity to observe current social conditions through a more horizontal and abstract lens. Alongside the flight # drawings, the exhibition showcases video works that address questions of mobility and explore the perpetual state of flux embodied in the drawings.
– From the exhibition text for Horizontal Darkness in Search of Solidarity, Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany, 2019