I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...
The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...
The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...
Artist Oscar Murillo's installation now on view at Kranzberg Arts Foundation evokes a very strange political protest, one in which no single cause is apparent but it's clear that passions run high.
Born in La Paila, Colombia, Oscar Murillo emigrated to the United Kingdom with his family as a child. He studied at the Royal College of Art in London, during which time he also worked as an office cleaner to support himself. Upon graduating in 2012, Murillo quickly developed a reputation for his stitched paintings; since then, his reputation has expanded to include drawings, sculptures, installations, films and performances, guided by the artist's fascination with the fluid concepts of identity, community and binaries.
Sewn together using old sewing machines, Murillo's stitched canvases are often covered in oil paint (applied with a broomstick) and unconventional materials including paper pulp, thread, cement dye and dust. They also frequently show traces of shoe soles and dirt from the artist working on the floor in his studio. Text also often features, including as single words such as 'chorizo', 'yoga' and 'milk', written in large letters and bright colours or black in a series of untitled paintings from 2012.
Murillo's experience as an immigrant has been a driving force in his works that explore themes of displacement and identity. meet me! Mr Superman (2013–15)—shown at his 2015 solo exhibition binary function at David Zwirner in London—is a film that follows the artist's friends in La Paila on the morning of New Year's Day. Shot from a point-of-view perspective, the film highlights the artist's disparate identities: originally born as a Columbian but now living in the United Kingdom, Murillo becomes a temporary visitor in his old hometown.
Another recurrent theme in Murillo's work is a concern with postcolonial and socioeconomic disparities. In 2016, while on his way to the 20th Biennale of Sydney Murillo flushed his British passport down the toilet as an impromptu performance that challenged the notion of privilege bestowed upon certain passports. He was detained at the airport upon arriving in Australia and, despite having his Colombian passport, was deported two days later. Murillo similarly commented on present-day colonial tendencies in international biennials through his work The Coming of the Europeans (2017), a large-scale banner across which the title is repeated, conceived for the inaugural Kathmandu Triennale in 2017.
In 2018, Murillo tuned his attention to consumption and labour in Collective Conscience (2018), a large-scale installation conceived for the 10th Berlin Biennale. In the courtyard of Akademie der Künste, Murillo placed industrial ovens that baked rock-like loaves that, after they left the ovens, were sheathed inside long fabric garments. Some of the fabrics were inscribed with workers' slogans and maps of trade routes, bringing attention to the disenfranchised labourers behind the production of commodities that permeate our everyday life.
Murillo has exhibited internationally at David Zwirner, Hong Kong (2018); YARAT Contemporary Art Centre, Baku (2016); Centro Cultural Daoíz y Velarde, Madrid (2015); Showroom MAMA, Rotterdam (2013); South London Gallery (2013); and the Serpentine Gallery, London (2012), among others. At the 56th Venice Biennale (2015), the artist displayed works from his 'Frequencies' project (2013–ongoing). The project involves dispatching blank canvases to schools around the world to be completed by students between 10 and 16 years of age.
Murillo lives and works in East London.
Jeremy Lewison, adviser to the Estate of Alice Neel, talks with Angela Lampe, curator of Modern Art at Centre Pompidou, on the occasion of the exhibition 'Alice Neel in New Jersey and Vermont' (26 October—15 December 2018).
Kerry James Marshall on Black identity, history and the process of making work. Interviewed on the occasion of Kerry James Marshall: Collected Works exhibited at Rennie Museum, June 2–November 3, 2018.VIDEO & EDIT: Milena Salazar
Rennie Museum hosted a talk by Kerry James Marshall on May 31, 2018. Maintaining an interdisciplinary approach to art-making, Marshall is perhaps best known for his prowess using classical techniques to re-integrate black figures into the history of painting. As part of the exhibition programming, Marshall took part in the Rennie Speaker Series to...
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