Artist Oscar Murillo installs a fully functioning chocolate-making factory for his exhibition at the David Zwirner gallery

Thanks to workers imported from Colombia, gallerygoers can get free chocolates while visiting the show in Chelsea

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Oscar Murillo’s mother, Virgelina Murillo (center), working at Colombina in La Paila, Colombia, 1988

Oscar Murillo’s mother, Virgelina Murillo (center), working at Colombina in La Paila, Colombia, 1988 Photograph: Collection of the artist


Usually when you associate Colombia with candy, you think of a white powdery substance that goes up your nose. But according to artist Oscar Murillo, something much darker, gooier and sweeter is involved.

The Brit art star—hailed in the U.K. as the new Jean-Michel Basquiat, for paintings that do indeed strongly resemble those of the lived-fast-died-young legend—was born in Colombia in the town of La Paila, which is also home to Colombina, "one of the premier food companies in Colombia and one of the main exporters of candy to the United States," according to the David Zwirner gallery, Murillo's New York dealer. The company's signature treats are chocolate-covered marshmallows called Chocmelos, which sound delicious if you can find them.

No matter, because starting April 24, you will be able to enjoy them—factory fresh, in fact—at Zwirner's Chelsea location. That's because for his show opening that day, Murillo is installing a full-scale, fully functional chocolate-making facility right on the premises. Until it closes June 14, the piece, titled A Mercantile Novel, will be staffed by Colombina workers imported from La Paila, who will crank out candies during gallery hours on equipment made in Germany (like David Zwirner himself). The best part is that the chocolates are being given away free to gallerygoers.

What does it all mean? That's a bit like asking what Zwirner's last exhibition featuring Jordan Wolfson's scary robot meant. But for his part, Murillo has stated that A Mercantile Novel "opens up considerations not merely about trade and globalization but also about individual relationships and communities, roots and immigration." Perhaps, or maybe it's just an opportunity to indulge a sweet tooth while galleryhopping.


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