8.11.
2019
–26.1.
2020
Oscar Murillo

Oscar Murillo, Horizontal Darkness in Search of Solidarity, installation view, Kunstverein in Hamburg, 2019, Photo: Fred Dott

Oscar Murillo

Horizontal Darkness in Search of Solidarity

Lively little flags. The rustic roof full of life. Restaurant. Corina sits at a stone table on a rough-hewn bench. She suffers from anxiety that goes from her empty stomach to her aching head. She lights the last cigarette from the empty pack she tears into little colored strips of paper.

Patrícia Galvão, Industrial Park (1933)

Patrícia Galvão’s hard-hitting novel Industrial Park vividly portrays the turbulent life of workers in Brazil during the 1930s. Poverty, exploitation, Marxist turmoil and trade-union activism are omnipresent; a workers’ strike is brutally put down. From the perspective of three women, Galvão describes an environment where sharing salted popcorn with a lover is ultimately more real than all the talk of the triumph of the proletariat. People show solidarity, stick together and fight to improve their situation in the face of all setbacks. Galvão dissects a world that is, for all its differences, frighteningly close to the social and political situation of today. It is a world that offers deep insights into how Oscar Murillo (*1986 in La Paíla, Colombia) approaches the subject of labor and what he understands by solidarity. Galvão shines a light onto the effects of industrialisation on São Paulo and describes its working class, which was made up of many immigrants, especially from Europe. These immigrants were exploited as a labor force, yet at the same time they developed new ideas in the fight against poor working conditions, which were, moreover, often publicized by the women among them, who were also being sexually exploited.

Murillo is an artist who undermines expectations: primarily working in painting, he goes beyond its limits by integrating video, drawing, sculpture and performance in impressive environmental installations. He has transformed the Kunstverein’s main hall into an agora reflecting his enduring belief in geographic, cultural and sociopolitical solidarity. In this work, titled Horizontal Darkness in Search of Solidarity, large canvases from the manifestation series meet the artist’s effigies—stuffed dolls symbolizing the ordinary people of his Colombian hometown. Visitors are invited to sit down on a number of stepped seating structures that double up as a site for the accompanying events program while serving as a vantage point for visitors to take in the scene and observe the agora as a site of debate.

The canvases making up the manifestation series are sewn together from sections of earlier paintings and other pieces of fabric and then painted, creating a collage effect in which the different energies of the various painted planes are consciously juxtaposed. Characterised by dense, aggressive bursts of colour—most frequently black—the works represent a play between gesture and signification. On each canvas, repeated letters of the alphabet are painted and then eradicated, almost without visible trace. The title of the series plays with the notions of making something manifest and the creation of meaning. The word additionally has a political connotation, as a common term for a political protest in several languages. Thus the idea of physical presence or gesture also points to the act of using one’s body to demonstrate dissent in the face of power.

The manifestation series is complemented by an installation of colour-soaked black canvases, sculpted windows commissioned from craftspeople in Azerbaijan, and Murillo’s flight # drawings, which offer a record of the time that the artist has spent in transit. These ballpoint-pen drawings bring to mind a multilayered stream of consciousness, a complex chain of thoughts and information that records and documents the artist’s thought processes. Flying, which ensures a physical distance from the ground, creates a crack in time. However, since flight routes are determined by political landscapes thousands of metres below (national borders, travel and trade routes, etc.), the dynamics of flying are inextricably linked to the laws of the ground. Nevertheless, flight offers the artist the opportunity to observe current social conditions through a more horizontal and abstract lens. Alongside the flight # drawings, the exhibition showcases video works that address questions of mobility and explore the perpetual state of flux embodied in the drawings. The windows were created using traditional stained-glass techniques, but instead of being made of iridescent glass they are made of rusted sheet metal from run-down factories, symbolising the run-down globalisation scrap of our time.

Murillo is interested in materials, process and labor as well as issues of migration, community, exchange and trade in today’s globalised world. These concerns are deeply embedded in Murillo’s personal history and creative process. Links to everyday life, culture and labor conditions in the industrial town of La Paíla where he was born reappear throughout his work.

A publication on the exhibition will be published in spring 2020 together with Kettle's Yard, Cambridge.

Oscar Murillo was awarded his BFA in 2007 from the University of Westminster, London, followed by an MFA in 2012 from the Royal College of Art, London. His works and projects have been the subject of solo and group exhibitions at prominent institutions worldwide, most recently at the chi K11 art museum, Shanghai (2019); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2017); CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux (2017); and Jeu de Paume, Paris (2017). Murillo’s work was also featured in the 2018 Berlin Biennale. Murillo is among the nominees for the 2019 Turner Prize.

Oscar Murillo

Oscar Murillo, Horizontal Darkness in Search of Solidarity, installation view, Kunstverein in Hamburg, 2019, Photo: Fred Dott

Oscar Murillo ist primär in der Malerei beheimatet und am ästhetischen Diskurs interessiert – zugleich sprengt er eben diesen Rahmen. In seinen beeindruckenden Gesamtinstallationen führt er Malerei mit Video, Zeichnung, Skulptur und Performance zusammen. Murillo wird in der großen Halle des Kunstvereins eine Agora installieren, die dem ungebrochenen Glauben des Künstlers an einen geografischen, kulturellen und gesellschaftspolitischen Zusammenhalt Ausdruck verleiht.  In Horizontal Darkness in Search of Solidarity treffen große, aus verschiedenen Stücken zusammengenähte Leinwände aus der manifestation Serie auf die effigies (Bildnisse), ausgestopfte Puppen, die die einfachen Leute aus La Paíla, Murillos Heimatstadt, symbolisieren. Verschiedene Tribünen, die auch im Rahmen des Begleitprogramms genutzt werden, laden die Besucher zum Hinsetzen ein, um von dort aus das Geschehen zu betrachten und die Agora als Ort der Debatte wahrzunehmen. Die zusammengesetzten Leinwände der manifestation Serie erzeugen einen Collage- Effekt, indem die verschiedenen Energien der gemalten Flächen einander bewusst gegenübergestellt werden. Geprägt von dichten, aggressiven Farbstrichen – meist in Schwarz – stellen die Arbeiten ein Spiel zwischen Geste und Bedeutung dar. Auf jeder Leinwand werden sich wiederholende Buchstaben gemalt und dann fast spurlos wieder vernichtet. Der Titel Manifestation spielt mit dem Begriff der Signifikation und der Schaffung von Bedeutung. Zudem hat das Wort eine politische Ebene und beschreibt in unterschiedlichen Sprachen einen politischen Protest. So verweist die Idee der physischen Präsenz oder Geste auch auf den Akt, mit dem eigenen Körper Widerstand gegenüber einer herrschenden Macht zu demonstrieren.

Die manifestation Serie wird ergänzt durch farbgetränkte schwarze Leinwände, geschnitzte Fenster aus Aserbaidschan und flight #  Zeichnungen, die die Zeit dokumentieren, die der Künstler auf Reisen verbracht hat. Diese Kugelschreiberzeichnungen ähneln einem vielschichtigen Bewusstseinsstrom, einer komplexen Kette von Gedanken und Informationen. Das Fliegen erzeugt ein zeitliches Vakuum. Trotz der großen physischen Entfernung zum Boden bleiben die Flugrouten von den politischen Landschaften Tausende von Metern tiefer bestimmt (d. h. Staatsgrenzen, Reise- und Handelsrouten usw.) und die Dynamik des Fliegens ist untrennbar mit den Gesetzen des Bodens verbunden. Dennoch erkennt Murillo im Fliegen die Möglichkeit, die aktuellen gesellschaftlichen Bedingungen durch eine eher horizontale und abstrakte Linse zu beobachten.

Neben den Zeichnungen zeigt die Ausstellung auch mehrere Videoarbeiten Murillos, die – wie bereits die Zeichnungen – das Thema Mobilität und den ewigen Zustand des Wandels untersuchen. Die Fenster, die er von Handwerkern aus Aserbaidschan in traditioneller Buntglastechnik hat anfertigen lassen, bestehen nicht aus schillerndem Glas, sondern aus verrostetem Blech aus abgewirtschafteten Fabriken und symbolisieren den Globalisierungsschrott unserer Zeit.

Oscar Murillo beschäftigt sich mit Materialien, Prozessen und dem Thema körperlicher Arbeit sowie mit Fragen von Migration, Gemeinschaft, Austausch und Handel in der heutigen globalisierten Welt. Diese Anliegen sind tief in Murillos persönlicher Geschichte und seinem kreativen Prozess verankert. Bezüge zu Leben, Kultur und Arbeitsbedingungen in der Fabrikstadt La Paíla, wo er geboren wurde, tauchen in seiner Arbeit immer wieder auf.

Im Frühjahr 2020 wird zur Ausstellung in Zusammenarbeit mit Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, eine Publikation erscheinen.

Support

The exhibition is kindly supported by the Hamburg Ministry of Culture and Media of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, the Hubertus Wald Foundation, Hamburger Sparkasse and the Latin America Association and its members: Colombia Companions, Ferrostaal Trading GmbH, Hamburg Süd, Helm AG, Neumann Kaffee Gruppe and Santander.

Our thanks also go to David Zwirner, Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi and CARLOS / ISHIKAWA for their support.

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