Shortly after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent closure of many international borders, Oscar Murillo gifted four drawings made over etchings, entitled The Poetics of Flight, to Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.
Oscar Murillo’s artworks are embedded in social engagement. He has experienced extraordinary success with installations, paintings and drawings that expand the possibilities of mark-making mediums: unravelling the canvas from its stretcher onto the floor and hanging works from ceilings. Murillo often works collaboratively and uses recycled materials within his work. Murillo’s work is powerful and poetic, fusing aesthetics with social and cultural histories. Born in Colombia and emigrating to the UK, the migrant experience often permeates his work through its exploration of in-between, ambiguous and ambivalent sentiments.
Oscar Murillo’s (untitled) poetics of flight works make pointed reference to air travel. Aeroplanes have become a site of production, experimentation and research for the artist. Flying enables Murillo to create work and observe current social conditions through an experimental lens. He starts by etching marks and gestures onto a metal plate. These are then printed onto paper and Murillo works on top, building up layers of imagery and phrases using ink, graphite or crayon. The drawings create a sense of movement, as a manifested stream of consciousness, and become a tangible archive of Murillo’s time spent in the air.
Murillo’s work follows some of the themes explored in the museum’s growing collection of international contemporary art, particularly those of migration and borders. Bristol’s history as a port, involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, the diverse and young population and growing gentrification have all resonated with Murillo, who is interested in histories of labour and movement across urban, rural and transnational contexts. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery curators have also been reflecting on the importance of collecting art that addresses social inequality.
In 2019 the Contemporary Art Society supported Art Night for the third year in a row, co-commissioning a work by artist Oscar Murillo. Letter from America was a site-specific installation and performance at the Walthamstow Trades Hall, delving into the effect of gentrification in East London.
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, in association with Art Night 2019, with support from Emma and Fred Goltz and the artist, 2020
Oscar Murillo (b.1986, La Paila, Colombia) lives and works in various locations. Recent solo shows include Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2020); Kunstverein, Hamburg (2019-20); Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge and chi K11 art museum, Shanghai (both 2019). Recent group shows include the Swiss Institute, New York (2021); The Shed, New York and Yorkshire Sculpture Park (both 2019). In 2019 Murillo was nominated for the Turner Prize and won as part of a collective of the four nominees. Murillo has a current solo show at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (until 22 April 2021).