International Exhibitions and an Artist Talk by Oscar Murillo

On view recently and continuing into 2018, international exhibitions of Oscar Murillo's work prominently feature hanging black canvases that are part of The Institute of Reconciliation, an ongoing project which profoundly extends the artist's engagement with the notion of belonging across different cultures.

Black canvases were hung around the outside walls of The Showroom in London in 2017, and are integral to Capsule 07, a major survey of new work by Murillo at Haus der Kunst in Munich through March 18, 2018 which is also accompanied by a major publication. At the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland until January 28, A Poet*hical Wager features black canvas works suspended from the rafters of the exhibition space. Murillo’s work will be shown in a solo booth at Untitled San Francisco in January. In February, an installation by the artist will feature in Actions. The image of the world can be different, a group exhibition marking the opening of the refurbished Kettle’s Yard gallery in Cambridge, England. A preview of the exhibition in The Financial Times highlights the inclusion of Murillo's work.

The most acute context for these works to date, however, is Ras al-Amud, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem where a new iteration of the project is on view at the Silwan Club. Black canvases the size of bedsheets hang from multiple washing lines in the small outdoor space of this former community center, close to the security fences around Ma’ale ha-Zeitim and Ma’ale David—Jewish settlements which have taken root in the Arab area in the last 20 years. This installation is part of Jerusalem Lives, the inaugural program at the Palestinian Museum organized by Reem Fadda, who also selected Murillo's project for the 2017 Sharjah Biennial.

In an interview with Sáez de Ibarra which is included in a major new monograph about the artist, Murillo describes the process of making the black canvases and their significance:

"It's like slow bleeding, clearing a passage by painting, ironing, folding, rubbing with a piece of black graphite. Those are all things you can do at home—tasks like sweeping or ironing—it's just that in this case they're done to black canvases, paying tribute to grief and mourning, but not to something specific. . . It's a manifestation of an attitude, which is larger than one’s own self . . . Right now it seems that in many parts of the world—or everywhere, even—there is a shroud of darkness . . . There is always a story under the surface, and those stories are often quite peculiar; they have a strange way of manifesting themselves."

In Jerusalem, as Mary Pelletier writes in Hyperallergic, the conflicted location is taking the work in a new direction: "As plans for Jerusalem Lives got under way, Murillo's approach to his black canvas work was changing. What had begun as a desire for intensity, rendered through experimentation with repetition and the possibilities of black paint, developed into a more site-specific practice."

In the artist's own words at the opening of the exhibition, "I thought it should not continue, that same kind of rhythm of existence in the studio, because something greater had happened. To just simply go back to the studio and to continue to make that work would just be to deny that experience. I don’t want the work to become transfixed into one singular kind of context."

The installation at the Silwan Club continues through January 31st, 2018.

Related Event:

Wednesday, February 21, 530–7PM
Contemporary Art Talks: Oscar Murillo
Goldsmiths University, London


Installation view, Jerusalem Lives, Jerusalem, Israel, 2017. Photo: © The Palestinian Museum

Installation view: Oscar Murillo: Capsule 07, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2017. Photo by Maximilian Geuter

Installation view, Everything we see could also be otherwise (My sweet little lamb), The Showroom, London, 2017. Photo by Daniel Brooke, image courtesy of The Showroom

Installation view, Jerusalem Lives, Jerusalem, Israel, 2017. Photo: © The Palestinian Museum