Oscar Murillo: Biography

Born in Colombia and based in various locations, Oscar Murillo (b. 1986) is known for an inventive and itinerant practice that encompasses paintings, works on paper, sculptures, installations, actions, live events, collaborative projects, and videos. Taken as a whole, his body of work demonstrates a sustained emphasis on the notion of cultural exchange and the multiple ways in which ideas, languages, and even everyday items are displaced, circulated, and increasingly intermingled. Murillo's work conveys a nuanced understanding of the specific conditions of globalization and its attendant state of flux, while maintaining the universality of human experience.

Murillo earned his BFA in 2007 from the University of Westminster, London, followed by his MFA in 2012 from the Royal College of Art, London. He joined David Zwirner in 2013 and had his inaugural exhibition, titled A Mercantile Novel, at the gallery in New York the following year. binary function marked his first solo presentation at David Zwirner, London in 2015. On view in 2016, the New York gallery presented through patches of corn, wheat and mud, a solo exhibition of the artist’s new work. In 2018, the build-up of content and information, presented at David Zwirner’s Hong Kong gallery, was the artist’s first solo show in Asia. In 2019, Manifestation was held at the gallery’s London location. In 2020, News was on view at the gallery’s Paris location. Ourself behind ourself concealed, the artist’s seventh solo presentation with David Zwirner, was on view in 2022 in New York. 

In 2022, solo exhibitions of Murillo's work were on view at KM21, The Hague, and the Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri. Additionally, the artist's first solo exhibition in Italy, entitled Oscar Murillo: Spirits and Gestures, was held at Fondazione Memmo in Rome in 2022. Oscar Murillo: A Storm Is Blowing From Paradise was on view at the Scuola Grande della Misericordia in Venice in the fall of 2022. 

In 2019-2020, Oscar Murillo: Social Altitude was on view at the Aspen Art Museum. Also in 2019-2020, Oscar Murillo: Horizontal Darkness In Search of Solidarity was presented at the Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany. Additionally, Murillo was one of four artists to win the 2019 Turner Prize. The Turner Prize exhibition was on view at Turner Contemporary, Margate, England, through January 2020. Also in 2019, a two-person exhibition with Tony Cokes, Collision/Coalition, was exhibited at The Shed, New York. Earlier that year, the dual solo shows Oscar Murillo | Zhang Enli were presented at chi K11 art museum, Shanghai, and OSCAR MURILLO: Violent Amnesia was on view at Kettle’s Yard at the University of Cambridge, England.


Murillo's works and projects have been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions worldwide. In 2017-2018, a solo exhibition of the artist’s work was on view at Haus der Kunst and was accompanied by a comprehensive monograph published by the museum in association with David Zwirner Books. In 2017, presentations were also held at CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux and Concorde, Paris and the Yarat Contemporary Art Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan. In 2015, solo shows were on view at the Museo de Arte de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá; Centro Cultural Daoíz y Velarde, Madrid (part of ArcoColombia 2015); and Artpace, San Antonio, Texas. Also in 2015, as part of Performa 15 in New York, Murillo presented Lucky dip, a series of performances and installations that took place over the course of one week at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, an important historical site in downtown Manhattan. In 2014, Murillo’s paintings, sculptures, and video works were presented at 40mcube in Rennes, France, organized as part of the 4th Les Ateliers de Rennes – Biennale d'art contemporain. Also in 2014 a body of work was presented at The Mistake Room in Los Angeles on the occasion of the venue's inaugural exhibition. In 2013, the South London Gallery hosted the artist's first major solo show in the United Kingdom. In 2012, he created paintings on site during a five-week summer residency at the Rubell Family Collection in Miami, which were shown later that year marking his first solo exhibition in the United States. Other venues that have exhibited his works and projects include the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (2016), Showroom MAMA, Rotterdam (2013), and the Serpentine Gallery, London (2012).


For Murillo's ongoing long-term project Frequencies, developed with members of the artist’s family, studio team, and collaborators around the world, canvases are temporarily affixed to classroom desks in selected schools across the globe, encouraging students aged ten to sixteen to create any kind of mark making—drawing, writing, doodling. Frequencies was exhibited at the 56th Venice Biennale: All the World's Futures in 2015. The following year, in 2016, it was presented at the 2nd Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art in China and the 3rd Aichi Triennial, Homo Faber: A Rainbow Caravan in Japan. In 2017, it was exhibited as part of Murillo’s Capsule 07 exhibition at Haus der Kunst in Munich and as part of the group shows A Poet*hical Wager at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland and Fragile State at the PinchukArtCentre in Kiev. In 2019, the project had a dedicated exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK. In 2021, the project was presented as part of The Space Between Classrooms, an exhibition curated by Alia Farid at the Swiss Institute in New York; MAM Project 029: Oscar Murillo, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Desert X 2021 in the Coachella Valley, California; and Aesthetics at TANK Shanghai. A presentation of Frequencies, organized by Artangel, was on display at the Cardinal Pole Catholic School, London in 2021. In 2015, David Zwirner Books published Oscar Murillo: Frequencies, which catalogues the first year of the project and includes reproductions of canvases and photographs of the schools and students involved.

Murillo is also the founder and director of the Frequencies Institute. The Institute is a space for encounter, exchange, and a catalyst for social-geographical engagement. Growing out of the artist’s decade-long project, Frequencies, the Institute brings together friends, develops networks through social exchange, education, exhibitions, gatherings, research, and support in the many geographies where the project took place, and beyond. The goal is to spark energy, irrespective of location, and join together groups of people as a small gesture to counteract the decline of hope, joy, and sharing as a viable social vehicle.

Work by the artist is included in museum collections worldwide, including The Broad, Los Angeles; Dallas Art Museum; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, England; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Rubell Museum, Miami; and Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Ghent.

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