Spirits and Gestures. Oscar Murillo on show in Rom...

Spirits and Gestures. Oscar Murillo on show in Rome

In the heart of Rome, from Piazza di Spagna along the famous Via Condotti, you can easily reach Fondazione Memmo. Founded by Roberto Memmo, it has always been a place for contemporary art and a theater, since 1990, of interesting exhibition projects that embrace the international scene, while remaining close to the cultural humus of the territory.

The last exhibition presented by the Foundation, and still running until March 20, 2022, is the first Italian solo exhibition of the Colombian Oscar Murillo. The exhibition, curated by Francesco Stocchi, is the result of two years of work, interspersed and increased by the persistent pandemic situation. Spirits and Gestures, without any doubt, not only introjected the current historical moment, but embodied and questioned the transience of the human condition, while also broadening the reflection to topics of urgent interest, which concern the well-being of the globe. The artist, winner of the Turner Prize in 2019, has always shaped his art by disrupting the initial being of things. Of course, one is perhaps not surprised by this today, but there is no doubt that making art with non-precious materials and managing, not only to make what one sees pleasing, but to express a concrete message is more difficult. Is Murillo a conceptual artist? Or perhaps a Germano Celant guerrilla artist?

If in the first room the exhibition appears to be easier to understand, as we continue, we find ourselves pleasantly enveloped by looming black canvases, sometimes torn and marked by traces of color and dust, which hang from the ceiling and force us to turn around and observe them in order to continue. The corpus of works is therefore arranged freely and does not respect the typical canons of exhibition: the large canvases that welcome visitors, on which all the colors seem to have exploded, are made from several pieces sewn together and are arranged on the walls like flags: light and free. The brushstrokes, which originate from a gestural matrix and focus on the material, are horizontally arranged and contribute to the sensation of movement and simultaneity. Canvases are a continuum in Murillo’s art, but for this exhibition, the artist has created a site-specific work. Distributed around the perimeter of the gallery, strange black balls that look almost like meteorites, but are actually nothing more than a mixture of cornmeal, mud and cement, subjected to a cooking process, strike the eye.

And if you think that the gallery space has remained furnished, you are wrong. Pews and seats typical of the ecclesiastical environment, desks and tables, coming from bourgeois antiques, are part of the exhibition and hide a tribute to the artist Domenico Gnoli, made more evident by the prints of some of his works. And those strange black traces on the wall? A gesture and a sign of Murillo himself. This exhibition project leaves nothing to chance: even that strange smell, which could be felt in an artist’s studio and which pervades the entire exhibition, is a deliberate olfactory impact. The works do not perform the function of medium, but are the message itself and the hand of Oscar Murillo is clearly present and communicates with strong actions and allegorical cultural messages to which the artist is particularly attached.

Claudia Pansera


Spirits and Gestures
Curated by Francesco Stocchi
November 1th 2021 – March 20th 2022
11.00 a.m.-6.00 p.m., Tuesday closed
Fondazione Memmo
Via Fontanella Borghese 56b
T: +39 06 68136598

Oscar Murillo,, 2021. Veduta dell’installazione alla Fondazione Memmo, Roma. Courtesy: l’artista e Fondazione Memmo. Foto: Daniele Molajoli

Oscar Murillo, 2021. Installation view, Fondazione Memmo, Rome. Photo: Daniele Molajoli. Courtesy: the artist and Fondazione Memmo.


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