Oscar Murillo - New Now London Thursday, April 28, 2022 | Phillips

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  • '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. 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.' 
    —Oscar Murillo

    Executed in 2013, Carne is a pivotal work showcasing Oscar Murillo’s determination to fully capture his surrounding environment, the essence of his mark-marking practice. Murillo’s monumental canvas is an example of the artist’s confident use of paint and his manipulation of materials, the nuances produced by chance and by the artist's application of materials work together to emphasise the shifts between abstraction and figuration that are at play here. Aggressively marked with seemingly haphazard strokes of brown, black, blue, and pink lines, Carne is deeply emotive. Cutting the canvas both vertically and horizontally, the artist’s forceful marks are clearly visible across the surface of the canvas, revealing the artist’s tendency to fold the canvas in half and half again, creating a series of imprinted reflections. Scratches are employed to subtract the initial addition of colour, creating a fascinating balance between application and reduction across the work.


    Murillo’s highly expressive strokes are reminiscent of the infamous Abstract Expressionist artist Jackson Pollock, as exemplified in his infamous drip painting Blue Poles, executed in 1952. Murillo, like Pollock, focusses on the significance of the production process and the act of making itself. For Murillo, all elements within his studio space are of vital importance, accruing on the canvas as he works and intensifying the experience for both viewer and artist. 


    Jackson Pollock, Blue Poles, 1952, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra / Purchased 1973 / Bridgeman Images, Artwork: © Succession Picasso / DACS, London 2022

    Text and the use of words are a typical motif used throughout the artist’s oeuvre, epitomised here by the titular ‘carne’ rendered in vibrant green and underlined in a striking white. Applied in spray paint, the medium of graffiti and usually associated with vandalism, the inclusion of this textual element contributes to the work’s more intense and aggressive visual directness. Referencing a vibrant history of street culture, Murillo also uses language to highlight the multicultural diversity of London where Murillo’s studio is based, while making a connection to the artist’s Latin American roots. 


    Painting is crucial within Murillo’s practice, although he works across many different mediums such as performance, installation, and video often evoking themes of global power imbalances, and the effects of economies on people such as immigration and their communities. These are ideas that are both universal and personal. Murillo who was born in La Paila, a small town in Columbia, surrounded by poverty, and grew up in the 1980s during a time of tumultuous political circumstance. He moved to London in the 1990s when he was ten, arriving in London, speaking no English, and experiencing a radically different culture. The significant experience of immense change during the artist’s life at a young age is revealed forcefully in Murillo’s work. 


    Oscar Murillo is represented by David Zwirner and has exhibited all over the world including the 56th Biennale Internazionale Dell’Arte di Venezia. Murillo’s works can be found in public collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst in Ghent. Murillo graduated from the Royal College of Art, London in 2012, the year before Carne was executed, highlighting the artist’s success as an innovative and critical contemporary artist. 

    • Provenance

      Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin
      Acquired from the above by the present owner



graphite, spray paint, oil stick, oil, plastic and debris on stitched canvas
265.3 x 215.1 cm (104 1/2 x 84 5/8 in.)
Executed in 2013.

Full Cataloguing

£120,000 - 180,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £151,200

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Gibbs
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now
+44 20 7901 7993

New Now

London Auction 28 April 2022