Oscar Murillo Makes No Mistake
The artist’s new work is on exhibit in Los Angeles.
Last Saturday, The Mistake Room, a new nonprofit art space in Los Angeles, opened its doors with a solo exhibition featuring Oscar Murillo, one of the hottest young art stars working at the moment. The 27-year old London-based artist, who hails from the small town of La Paila, Colombia, is the first in a series of international artists that Cesar Garcia, the co-founder of the new space in L.A.’s downtown industrial district, and a former curator at LAXART, is bringing to Los Angeles for the first time. “We plan to commission work from emerging artists outside the U.S., as well as established names who’ve never shown here in L.A.,” says Garcia. “It’s pretty astounding, the artists who have never worked here. Los Angeles institutions have long supported the artists at home, but there aren’t really any kunsthalle-type spaces with an international program.”
Early on in the conception of The Mistake Room, which is named after a performance piece by artist-trustee Glenn Kaino, Garcia approached Murillo about getting involved. This was two years ago, before the market for Murillo’s paintings and installations exploded. “Oscar’s become integral to the founding of the institution,” Garcia says now, noting that Murillo has also come onboard as an artist-trustee. For the inaugural exhibition, Murillo, whose family had worked in a candy factory in Colombia before immigrating to London, asked Garcia to hold off on building out the unfinished warehouse space. (The planned interior renovation will commence after the show closes in April.) Instead, the artist bought his own raw materials—canvas, paint, wood, steel—and moved in for a few months, hiring day laborers to help him make wood sculptures, steel shipping crates, and abstract paintings, some of which he has left unfinished as evidence of the fabrication process. Combining these new on-site works with previous videos tracing a workday in a Colombian candy factory, Murillo explored the relationship between aesthetics and labor, abroad and in L.A. “There’s a social dimension to the relationships built by this shared labor,” says Garcia. “It’s in line with the issues we want to explore here, namely: What does it mean to be an art institution in one of the most diverse cities in the U.S.?”