Oscar Murillo - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Friday, March 3, 2023 | Phillips
  • “Offloading this huge amount of energy, it is almost like going to a kind of therapy. Or going for a run. I am dealing with my own sickness.”  
    —Oscar Murillo

    The work of Columbian artist Oscar Murillo strikes us with its expressive power. Untitled presents a sense of urgency that is instantly palpable as the vigorous brushstrokes grant the work a certain dynamism, generating both chaos and energy. The vibrant gestures also reference manual labour, a feature inherent to the artist’s childhood. Consisting of seven parts which span nearly five meters, Untitled details Murillo’s strong commitment to scale, texture, colour, and gesture – all hallmarks of the abstract painting tradition.i


    Born in La Paila, Colombia, in 1986, Oscar Murillo arrived in Britain with his parents at the age of 10. Coming from a small town known for its sugarcane industry, he had never been confronted with art, but grew up with a tactile approach to materials and objects.ii The physical involvement present in the artist’s work is nevertheless associated with a long intellectual journey. Murillo likes to “leave [the paintings] around for months” and “let things mature on their own like aging cheese or letting a stew cook” in order to “get more flavor.”iii


    The analogies that Murillo draws between food and art deeply resonate with the essence of his practice. Going beyond performative and symbolic gesture, the artist indeed seeks to blur the boundaries between art and life through a subversive interdisciplinary approach. Painting, video art, installation, performance, and events organisation are among the communicative tools employed by Murillo. Combining his own experience of displacement with wider notions of migration, family, community, and globalised economy, he aims to involve the viewer in his work.

    “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 a continuous process, a machine of which I’m the catalyst.”
    —Oscar Murillo

    The democratic aspect of Oscar Murillo’s experiments also extends to the materials used, as studio debris – such as dust and dirt – which are often spread onto his canvases. Although it echoes the work of Swiss artist Dieter Roth, who created monumental pieces with his studio floor, Murillo admits that “most painters are terrified of painting in the same space where they are eating, sleeping, and defecating”. For him however, it represents this notion of an ongoing process and seeing how his works progress.iv

    Within Oscar Murillo’s artistic practise, individual freedom and constant awareness of the world combine to bridge the gap between the glamorous art world and the banality of daily life, as well as to create a platform for social collisions.


    Oscar Murillo completed his MFA at the Royal College of Art in London in 2012 and joined the stable of David Zwirner gallery’s artists the following year. His work has been exhibited worldwide, including at the MoMA, New York; the 56th Venice Biennale; the Jeu de Paume, Paris; the Whitechapel Gallery, London; the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; and the Kunstverein, Hamburg. Recipient of the Turner Prize in 2019, his work is in the collections of prestigious institutions, such as the Dallas Art Museum, the Prada Foundation, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Los Angeles, and The Rubell Family Collection. In 2013, Murillo initiated an ongoing collaborative project called Frequencies, an invitation to students aged 10-16 to freely invest raw canvases. A catalogue under the same name compiles the first year of this artistic adventure.


    i Peter Benson Miller, ‘Keeping it Alive: Oscar Murillo’, Flash Art, 1 June 2020, online.

    ii Oscar Murillo: work, exh. cat., Rubell Family Collection, Miami, 2012, p. 40.

    iii Legacy Russel, ‘Oscar Murillo’, BOMB Magazine, 1 January 2013, online.

    iv Karen Wright, ‘In the studio with Oscar Murillo, artist’, The Independent, 7 September 2013, online.

    • Provenance

      Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner



oil, oil stick and xerox on paper, in artist's frame, in 7 parts
each 90 x 64 cm (35 3/8 x 25 1/4 in.)
overall 64 x 270 cm (25 1/4 x 106 1/4 in.)

Executed in 2014.

Full Cataloguing

£80,000 - 120,000 ‡♠

Sold for £107,950

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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 3 March 2023