Oscar Murillo (artist)

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Oscar Murillo (born 1986 in La Paila, Colombia) is a Colombian artist working within the painting tradition. He currently lives and works in various locations.[1]

Murillo’s solo exhibitions include Yarat Contemporary Art Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan (2016–17); Museo de Arte de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá; Centro Cultural Daoíz y Velarde, Madrid; Performa 15, New York and Artpace, San Antonio (all 2015); The Mistake Room, Los Angeles (2014), and South London Gallery (2013).

The artist has also participated in numerous international group exhibitions and biennials, including the Sharjah Biennial 13 (2017) and the 56th Venice Biennale (2015).

Curator and writer Legacy Russell has said that the artist explores "the body in transit",[2] while curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist has spoken of a "blurring […] between art and life" occurring in Murillo’s multidisciplinary works.[3]

In 2019, he co-won the Turner Prize after requesting with his fellow nominees (Tai Shani, Helen Cammock, and Lawrence Abu Hamdan) that the jury award the prize for the first time to all four nominated artists.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Murillo was born, and spent the first ten years of his life, in La Paila, a small town in the Valle del Cauca Department of Colombia. His parents moved to London when he was 10 years old and knew no English.[5] He attended Cardinal Pole Catholic School in Hackney, returning in 2021 to exhibit there as part of his Frequencies project.[6]

In 2007, Murillo earned his BA.(Hons) in Fine Art at University of Westminster. After graduating, he worked as a teacher in a secondary school. He soon quit his job and traveled to South America. In 2012, Murillo graduated from the Royal College of Art in London, with an MA in Fine Art.[7] Living in East London, he often worked as an installer for the neighbourhood’s small galleries.[8]


Murillo's studio-based works are fundamentally tied to the environment where he produces them:[3]

I came to the realisation that I was interested in too many things at once. Somehow the studio floor was the only available tool to communicate these interests. […] One tutor from art school once said that the way I made work, or treated the studio, reminded her of when she was growing up in post-war Britain because then there was this idea that you had to be resourceful. I grew up as a child in a village in Colombia, where there was a very similar attitude to just using what was around.

— Oscar Murillo, from interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist published in Work (Rubell Family Collection: 2012)

Since 2013, through his ongoing collaborative project Frequencies, Murillo has worked with schools across the globe, placing pieces of raw canvas on schools students' desks and inviting them to draw and write on, mark and illustrate them. To date, thousands of students, primarily aged 10 to 16, have participated. The canvases are added to a growing archive, selections of which have been exhibited at the 56th Venice Biennale, Italy, the 2nd Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art 2016, China and 3rd Aichi Triennial, Japan.[9]

Another ongoing theme throughout Murillo's work concerns postcolonial and socioeconomic disparities. In his work The Coming of the Europeans (2017), a large-scale banner conceived for the inaugural Kathmandu Triennale in the same year, he commented on the continuing legacy of colonialism in present-day international fairs.[10]

Art market[edit]

In February 2013, London auctions at Sotheby's, Christie's and Phillips all included Murillo’s work.[8] Artnet estimates that 24 Murillo pieces generated a total of $4.8 million at auction that year.[11] Untitled, 2012 sold for £218,500 at Phillips, London, 16 October 2013.[12]

Murillo is represented by Carlos Ishikawa (London),[13] Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie (Berlin)[14] and David Zwirner (London, New York).[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Oscar Murillo | David Zwirner". David Zwirner. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  2. ^ "BOMB Magazine — Oscar Murillo by Legacy Russell". bombmagazine.org. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  3. ^ a b Juan., Roselione-Valadez; Ulrich., Obrist, Hans; Gillick, Liam; Nicola., Lees; P., Watts, Jonathan; Collection., Rubell Family; Foundation., Contemporary Arts (2012). Oscar Murillo : work : Rubell Family Collection. Rubell Family Collection, Contemporary Arts Foundation. ISBN 9780982119587. OCLC 873008057.
  4. ^ Holland, Oscar (2019-12-04). "Turner Prize won by all four nominees in appeal for 'solidarity'". CNN Style. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  5. ^ Steel, Rebecca. "Oscar Murillo | A Very Colombian Pursuit Of Art And Community". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  6. ^ Chant, Holly (2021-07-27). "Turner Prize winning artist holds exhibition in his former Hackney school". Hackney Gazette. Retrieved 2021-08-15.
  7. ^ Russell, Legacy. "Oscar Murillo". BOMB Magazine. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013.
  8. ^ a b Carol Vogel (March 14, 2014), Art World Places Its Bet – Oscar Murillo Keeps His Eyes on the Canvas New York Times.
  9. ^ "Frequencies Project". frequenciesproject.net. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  10. ^ "Oscar Murillo | Artworks, Exhibitions, Profile & Content". ocula.com. 2019-03-05. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  11. ^ Kazakina, Katya. "Art Flippers Chase Fresh Stars as Murillo's Doodles Soar". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Lot 38 13 October 2013". Phillips. Archived from the original on 8 December 2013.
  13. ^ "Oscar Murillo — CARLOS/ISHIKAWA". www.carlosishikawa.com. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  14. ^ "Oscar Murillo". bortolozzi.com. Retrieved 2018-05-17.