Murillo addresses the conditions of display in the contemporary art world by engaging with a series of dichotomies—including work and play, production and consumption, and originality and appropriation. His practice is closely tied to notions of community and migration stemming from his cross-cultural ties to London, where he currently lives, and Colombia, where he was born.
The exhibition marks a significant moment in Murillo’s career in which he consolidates his early emphasis on personal cultural experiences with a broader exploration of the different roles and possibilities of artists within an increasingly global world. It takes its point of departure in his recent travels and exhibitions, allowing for an at once introspective and radical look at his practice to date.
In a futile mercantile disposition, a maze-like room-sized installation of several hundred black paintings and steel structures inspired by morgue tables, the idea of a finished work becomes inseparable from process and materials. Each of the canvases has been covered with two coats of paint on both sides and is displayed draped across metal wires, folded, or casually scattered. Not two are alike: some have been cut into strips and sewn together in a unique pattern, while others bear evidence of previous use as oil pads in the studio, with marks left behind by other works, or of having moved around with the artist on his travels. Alternating sheer and opaque surfaces distinguish newer canvases from older ones, and the lingering smell of paint offers a sense of their ongoing production.
Ten black, torn paintings arranged in a grid in the adjacent gallery include characteristic motifs from Murillo’s oeuvre at large, yet their black on black printing makes it difficult to discern the individual layers. The artist cut into the canvases as an act of drawing, and then stitched the loose ends together to add volume to the compositions. Each of the canvases in the installation, titled Black Monday/Tuesday in a reference to the stock market crash of 1987, accompanied Murillo on a recent trip to Southeast Asia, where they were part of ritualistic performances with local spiritual guides.
The element of patchwork, along with actual motifs, are more clearly visible in another group of paintings on view, which represent a continuation of the vibrant and visually complex works for which Murillo first became known. Again including multiple layers of marks from repeated brushwork and printing, they contain recognizable, if jumbled, imagery drawn from such sources as a Jamaican two dollar bill, playing cards, coconut water packaging, and a diagram of a pig. In contrast, through patches of corn, wheat and mud, a large-scale and partially torn painting that shares its title with the exhibition, is devoid of figuration, focusing attention fully on its intricate pattern of canvas fragments that are covered with natural latex and minutely stitched together. Installed with a metal armature similar to the sculptural arrangements in a futile mercantile disposition, it offers the impression of a sturdy landscape to be traversed.