We Lost Another Painter / by Chris Hall

Oscar Murillo, Untitled (Yoga), 2012

28 year old Oscar Murillo is an overnight sensation.  Born in La Paila Columbia, he moved to London at age ten where he started making paintings reminiscent of Cy Twombly and Jean Michel Basquiat.  His work, with its searching lines and bold colors is indebted to the Neo-Expressionist tradition, but also has flavors of Pop Art in that the works often have text scrawled on them, mundane words like:  yoga, milk, or burrito.  Now Murillo has his first solo show at David Zwirner Gallery . . . and guess what . . . he isn’t showing any paintings!  

The show is called A Mercantille Novel, and it’s a working rendition of a Columbian candy factory.  According to the press release, the factory is staffed with “experienced candy-making employees going about their daily work as usual.”  They are making Chocmelos, a chocolate covered marshmallow, and, if all goes as planned, the work is supposed to raise questions on immigration, globalism, displacement, and socio-economic conditions in the United States, Columbia, and beyond.  The work is a squeaky clean production line, set up at enormous expense by an outside corporation, which makes me even question whether the work can even technically be called Murillo's.  

When asked about why he chose not to show paintings for his New York solo debut, Murillo said that the work would have been “redundant,” that “this is where my practice is now.”  

It is a real shame that Murillo, with so much promise, chose to go over to the “Dark-Side” by championing the banal aesthetics of a corporation.  It seems we lost another painter.  

The gallery touts that "Over the course of the exhibition, tens of thousands of candies will be produced and given away for free,” and that "gallery visitors and volunteers are invited to take candy and share it throughout the city’s five boroughs, whether on foot, by bike, by taxi, by subway, by bus, etc., thus reflecting all modes of typical transportation throughout New York City and the diversity of its communities."  Well, at least there is free candy.

Oscar Murillo, A Merchantile Novel, 2014

Oscar Murillo, A Merchantile Novel, 2014