through patches of corn, wheat and mud
David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Oscar Murillo. On view at 525 and 533 West 19th Street in New York will be paintings, drawings, sculptural elements, and film.
Murillo addresses the conditions of display in the contemporary art world by engaging with a series of opposites—including work and play, production and consumption, and originality and appropriation. His practice is closely tied to notions of community and migration stemming from his cross-cultural ties to London, where he currently lives, and Colombia, where he was born.
The exhibition marks a significant moment in Murillo's career in which he consolidates his early emphasis on personal cultural experiences with a broader exploration of the different roles and possibilities of artists within an increasingly global world. It takes its point of departure in his recent travels and exhibitions, allowing for an at once introspective and radical look at his practice to date.
In a futile mercantile disposition, a maze-like room-sized installation of several hundred black paintings and steel structures inspired by morgue tables, the idea of a finished work becomes inseparable from process and materials. Each of the canvases has been covered with two coats of paint on both sides and is displayed draped across metal wires, folded, or casually scattered. Not two are alike: some have been cut into strips and sewn together in a unique pattern, while others bear evidence of previous use as oil pads in the studio, with marks left behind by other works, or of having moved around with the artist on his travels. Alternating sheer and opaque surfaces distinguish newer canvases from older ones, and the lingering smell of paint offers a sense of their ongoing production. A monitor displaying a silent video of a spinning top in perpetual motion is positioned as a catalyst activating the space.
The element of patchwork is more clearly visible in another group of paintings on view, which represent a continuation of the vibrant and visually complex works for which Murillo first became known. Including multiple layers of marks from repeated brushwork and printing, they contain recognizable, if jumbled, imagery drawn from such sources as a Jamaican two dollar bill, playing cards, coconut water packaging, and a Colombian animal feed wrapper. In contrast, through patches of corn, wheat and mud, a large-scale and partially torn painting that shares its title with the exhibition, is devoid of figuration, focusing attention fully on its intricate pattern of canvas fragments that are covered with natural latex and minutely stitched together. Installed with a metal armature similar to the sculptural arrangements in a futile mercantile disposition, it offers the impression of a sturdy landscape to be traversed.
Also on view is the prototype of Them, an intimate travel journal and unique artist book that Murillo released last year. With a large selection of family photographs and drawings, it provides a practical illustration of some of the layering techniques used for his paintings, as well as the overall centrality of mark-making within his work: carbon paper between the pages means that traces of one drawing become part of several others, and continuous retouching confuses the idea of a negative and positive image.
The exhibition coincides with Murillo's participation in Printed Matter's 2016 New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1 (September 15-18). In collaboration with Mandy El-Sayegh, an artist based in London, and Yutaka Sone, who is also represented by David Zwirner, Murillo will stage Room Services, a live, multi-day drawing and printing performance, creating unique books, zines, and editions.