Oscar Murillo
International Exhibitions and an Artist Talk by Oscar Murillo
2017–2018

On view in 2017 and continuing into 2018, international exhibitions of Oscar Murillo's work prominently featured 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 were integral to Capsule 07, a major survey of new work by Murillo at Haus der Kunst in Munich through April 15, 2018 which was also accompanied by a major publication. At the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland until January 28, A Poet*hical Wager featured black canvas works suspended from the rafters of the exhibition space. Murillo’s work was presented in a solo booth at Untitled San Francisco in January 2018. An installation by the artist featured 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 highlighted 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 was on view at the Silwan Club. Black canvases the size of bedsheets were hung 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 was 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 took 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."

Related Event:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 5:30–7 PM
Contemporary Art Talks: Oscar Murillo
Goldsmiths University, London

Images:

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

Capsule 07
2017–2018
Major survey exhibition at Haus der Kunst, Munich
Oscar Murillo
Installation view: Oscar Murillo, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2017. Photo: Maximilian Geuter
 
Oscar Murillo
Installation view: Oscar Murillo, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2017. Photo: Maximilian Geuter
Installation view: Oscar Murillo, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2017. Photo: Maximilian Geuter
 
Oscar Murillo
Installation view: Oscar Murillo, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2017. Photo: Maximilian Geuter
Oscar Murillo
Installation view: Oscar Murillo, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2017. Photo: Maximilian Geuter
Oscar Murillo
Installation view: Oscar Murillo, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2017. Photo: Maximilian Geuter
Oscar Murillo
Installation view: Oscar Murillo, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2017. Photo: Maximilian Geuter
Oscar Murillo
Installation view: Oscar Murillo, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2017. Photo: Maximilian Geuter

September 15, 2017–April 15, 2018

Capsule 07 was a major survey of new work by Oscar Murillo that was created specifically for Haus der Kunst. 

Synthesizing ideas Murillo had been developing over the previous four years, the exhibition featured whole room installations, integrating video, painting, drawing, sculpture, and performative elements. Also included was a presentation of Murillo's ongoing Frequencies project—a collaboration between the artist and his family, the sociologist Clara Dublanc, and schools in different countries where children are encouraged to leave their marks on canvases that have been stretched over their desks.

A publication accompanying the exhibition features a foreword by the Director of Haus der Kunst, Okwui Enwezor, texts by Emma Enderby and Anna Schneider, and an interview with Murillo by Maria Belen Saez de Ibarra. Published by Haus der Kunst.

Major Monograph from Haus der Kunst
2017

Published on the occasion of a major solo exhibition at Haus der Kunst in Munich, Oscar Murillo is the first dedicated overview of the artist's career to date, presenting his multifaceted practice from every angle. The book features an introduction by Okwui Enwezor and new scholarship by Emma Enderby and Anna Schneider, as well as a conversation with Murillo by María Belén Sáez de Ibarra. Published by Haus der Kunst.

Photo: Kyle Knodell

Frequencies Project
Ongoing since 2013
Artist's project in schools around the world
A Frequencies canvas
Frequencies (David Zwirner Books, 2015)
Frequencies (David Zwirner Books, 2015)

Frequencies is a long-term project conceived in collaboration with members of Oscar Murillo's family and political scientist Clara Dublanc. Begun in 2013, the project sends pieces of raw canvas to schools around the globe with the sole requirement that they be affixed to desks for a year and illustrated by students. After that year, Murillo re-collects the canvases. To date, hundreds of students aged primarily 10 to 16 in schools on five continents have participated.

In 2015, David Zwirner Books published a book designed by Olu Odukoya documenting the first year of this ongoing project. The publication details the participating students and the many steps of the project, including the arrival of the canvases at schools, affixing the fabric to desks, the students working, and the final illustrations.

Read more: David Zwirner Books Editorial Director Lucas Zwirner describes the project in Cultured magazine. Learn more about Frequencies at frequenciesproject.net

Room Services
2016
Performance work at Printed Matter's New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1
Installation view of Room Services at Printed Matter's 2016 New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1
Oscar Murillo, Mandy El-Sayegh, Yutaka Sone
Room Services posters, 2016
16 1/2 x 23 1/4 in (41.9 x 59.1 cm)
Oscar Murillo, Mandy El-Sayegh, Yutaka Sone
Room Services posters, 2016
16 1/2 x 23 1/4 in (41.9 x 59.1 cm)
Oscar Murillo, Mandy El-Sayegh, Yutaka Sone
Room Services posters, 2016
16 1/2 x 23 1/4 in (41.9 x 59.1 cm)
Oscar Murillo, Mandy El-Sayegh, Yutaka Sone
Room Services posters, 2016
16 1/2 x 23 1/4 in (41.9 x 59.1 cm)
Oscar Murillo, Mandy El-Sayegh, Yutaka Sone
Room Services posters, 2016
16 1/2 x 23 1/4 in (41.9 x 59.1 cm)

For Printed Matter's 2016 New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1, Oscar Murillo presented Room Services in collaboration with Yutaka Sone and Mandy El-Sayegh. The live multi-day drawing and printing performance centered around three workstations where the artists created graphic works, editions, books, and zines.

Posters from the project are available from David Zwirner Books.

56th Venice Biennale
2015
Oscar Murillo
Installation view of the 56th Venice Biennale: All the World's Futures, 2015
Oscar Murillo
Installation view of the 56th Venice Biennale: All the World's Futures, 2015
Oscar Murillo
Installation view of the 56th Venice Biennale: All the World's Futures, 2015
Oscar Murillo
Installation view of the 56th Venice Biennale: All the World's Futures, 2015
Oscar Murillo
Installation view of the 56th Venice Biennale: All the World's Futures, 2015
Oscar Murillo
Installation view of the 56th Venice Biennale: All the World's Futures, 2015
Oscar Murillo
Installation view of the 56th Venice Biennale: All the World's Futures, 2015

Oscar Murillo's presentation at the 56th Venice Biennale: All the World's Futures​ debuted a large installation of canvases from his ongoing Frequencies project. Murillo also presented signalling devices in now bastard territory, a series of 20 black canvases each hung from a single hook and extending 30 feet from the floor to the ceiling of the Central Pavilion in the Giardini.

lucky dip
2015
Live work presented at Performa in New York
Oscar Murillo
Installation view, Oscar Murillo: Lucky dip. Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, New York [part of Performa 15]
Oscar Murillo
Installation view, Oscar Murillo: Lucky dip. Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, New York [part of Performa 15], 2015
Oscar Murillo
Installation view, Oscar Murillo: Lucky dip. Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, New York [part of Performa 15], 2015

For Performa 15, Oscar Murillo presented lucky dip, an installation and live work at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at Bowling Green in New York, located at the southern edge of lower Manhattan.

On the building's exterior, Murillo installed a banner with the logo of Mighty White, a South African corn brand. Inside, performers ground and re-packaged corn, acknowledging the building's history as a hub for international trade and distribution. Throughout the week-long performance and installation, workers sang Spanish ballads and read from passages about town criers in London's markets, drawing further connections between the space and artistic and industrial production.