Oscar Murillo

Inventive and Itinerant

November 18, 2021
UNTITLED (DRAWING OFF THE WALL), 2011
Oil, spray paint, oil stick, graphite, and dirt on canvas.
71 1/2 x 71 1/2 x 2 in 181.5 x 181.5 x 5 cm
Copyright The Artist

With his ‘inventive and itinerant’ modus operandi already on full display while still a graduate student in London at the Royal Academy of Art, the Colombian-born, multidisciplinary artist, Oscar Murillo (b. 1986), brings cultural exchange and dialogue—drawn from his Spanish-speaking roots for his English-speaking audience—front and center with his 2011 painting, Untitled (Drawing Off The Wall).  Firstly, to do anything ‘off the wall’ is to do it in a bizarro-type fashion. Inscribing the Spanish word for chicken, pollo, on the bottom half of a six-foot-square painting is a perfect example of such behavior. But Murillo’s work may allude to something deeper, the nuance most certainly lost in verbatim translation: there was a time not too long ago that fresh chicken was a luxury food in Colombia’s big cities. Like Wagyu beef is today. Back in the day, to have asked the rhetorical question, ¿Y eso quién pidió pollo? (Who ordered the chicken?) was to have implied how expensive something was. But words and phrasing, like people, get intermingled, are always in flux. Today, chicken is readily available and super inexpensive in Colombia, yet the idiom with the question persists. Only, its meaning has been altered and is now employed as a device to acknowledge exceptional beauty—eye-candy, male or female. And for Murillo, perhaps to art as well. Painting as delicious booty. Sabroso como pollo. And for the masses to savor. — de la Haba 

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© copyright 2021 Gregory de la Haba
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