Could textiles win the Turner Prize?
Oscar Murillo has been shortlisted for this prize, thanks in part to his vulnerable, ripped and cut surfaces
The Colombian-born artist Oscar Murillo was included in our contemporary painting survey, Vitamin P3, and he’s also made it into our new textiles overview, Vitamin T, partly because of the way he treats his canvases.
“Oscar Murillo puts his paintings through the wringer,” writes critic and curator George Vasey in Vitamin T. “Alongside oil paint his work incorporates materials such as dirt, food, latex and bank notes that are collaged onto crumpled and quilted textiles. Alongside canvas, he uses materials from tenting and food packaging and emblazes words such as mango, chorizo and milk across their surfaces.”
"His pictures feel like a space of digestion where he processes the stuff of the studio alongside the imagery and material of global economies. His paintings are largely abstract and broadly gestural, with their ripped and cut surfaces portraying a sense of vulnerability. The works – often painted front and back – hang from the ceiling, on the front of buildings, from trees and on the floor, frequently inviting audiences to interact with the work and allowing nature to take its course."
Some of those works might possibly win Murillo the 2019 Turner Prize. The artist has made this year’s shortlist, announced today, with judges citing the way “the way he pushes the boundaries of materials, particularly in his paintings. “His work incorporates a variety of techniques and media including painting, drawing, performance, sculpture and sound, often using recycled materials and fragments from his studio. Murillo’s work reflects on his own experience of displacement and the social fallout of globalisation.”
Our book picks up on this theme. “The surface of Murillo’s paintings can be read variously as tarpaulin and weathered flags. There is a literal and metaphorical density to his work that absorbs often contrary meanings. The blackness here could be read racially and ecologically, referencing the skin of silenced and exploited bodies, as well as evoking the crude oil that continues to fuel our society and serve as a pretext for so many wars,” writes Vasey. “Murillo’s work invites the significant questions around identity, migration, value and community – he makes ominous and significant art for difficult times.”
For more on Murillo’s work, as well as plenty of other artists working in thread and fabric order Vitamin T here.