Oscar Murillo review

4 out of 5 stars
Oscar Murillo review
Oscar Murillo 'Untitled (news)' (2016 - 19) © Oscar Murillo. Image courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Oscar Murillo is hyped. Or he was. Straight out of art school, people were buying the Colombia-born artist’s abstract paintings for huge amounts of money. He was touted as the next big thing, the future of abstraction, the saviour of painting, yadda, yadda, yadda.

It was all bullshit, obviously. He was just a very good painter who probably got pedestalled too quickly by an art market desperately hoping to make a couple of bucks out of him. And after the rise: the fall, the backlash. How do you figure your art out, yourself out, when you’re being crushed by the weight of hype and money and backlash?

That’s the context for this show of massive new paintings. Now forget it. Because Murillo’s work deserves to be taken at face value, on its own merits, and what’s happening across these rooms is an artist letting go of everything and finally becoming himself.

Murillo’s big canvases are clashes of texture. There are soft, faded markings in the background, muted pastels and greys, then great, thick, oily, glistening splodges smeared up front. It’s a mixture of violent, rubbed etching and swooping, filthy colours. You can spot over-painted images of ads, Chinese lettering, news and blueprints, all on hessian sackcloth like he’s working directly on bags of produce shipped from elsewhere.

So there’s a sense of trade, exchange and internationalism here – of globalism being written over and rewritten, of narratives that appear and slink away – but the really striking thing is Murillo’s mark-making. He’s manic, aggressive, overwrought. You can feel how hard he’s pushing. All these blacks and reds feel bodily, angry, it's properly visceral abstraction.

So forget the hype. Just enjoy an artist being themselves, and being really good at it.


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