‘The idea of labour and work is at the heart of my practice’
‘My studio is a cradle of dust and dirt, of pollution. I don’t tidy up at the end of each production process. It’s all very much on purpose; it’s continuous process, a machine of which I’m the catalyst. Things get moved around, I step on them, and they get contaminated. It’s not about leaving traces, it’s about letting things mature on their own’
A striking installation of posters, drawings, footballs, steel and concrete, Untitled (2012) assembles the vital ingredients of Oscar Murillo’s boundary-pushing practice. The two central posters – black-and-white photographs distorted as if through photocopy – read ‘Animals die from eating too much! Yoga,’ the title of a 2011 performance which turned a gallery into a yoga studio, with Murillo’s friends and family using his paintings as mats. The graphic font combined with the image of ranked bodies lying on the floor has a dark tang of dystopian propaganda, and visually echoes a factory production line as well as referencing the artist’s own previous work: Murillo, whose parents worked in a sugarcane plant in Colombia before the family moved to London when the artist was ten years old, has long been interested in the processes and conditions of labour in his art. The footballs – some of them real found objects, others deceptive concrete casts – similarly seem to dare the viewer into a Russian roulette of physical interaction with the work, which rudely overflows the traditional wall-bound gallery format. Often involving his relatives and acquaintances, Murillo’s output is always performative and participatory. The abstract and textual paintings which shot him to fame, characterised by their rich patinas of dust, dirt and wear accrued in his studio, have been displayed on the floor to be walked over or handled; his debut New York solo show A Mercantile Novel (2014) employed workers in a fully functioning replica sweet factory. As formally arresting as it is visually powerful, the considered physical poetry of Untitled exemplifies Murillo’s fascination with the transformative cultural contingencies of work, play, and community, investigating his own international identity and relationships with the world at large.