View of “If I was to draw a Line, this journey started approximately 400KM north of the equator,” 2013.


Oscar Murillo is a Colombian artist based in London who often explores patterns of migration and social networking in his practice. For his current solo exhibition, “If I was to draw a Line, this journey started approximately 400KM north of the equator,” he presents stitched-together canvases, drawings, sculptures, films, and shelves made from copper sheets, which he used as flooring in a previous show. The exhibition is on view at the South London Gallery until December 1, 2013.

THE TITLE OF THE SHOW came about during a trip I made to South America. The equator goes straight through Colombia, and when I was there last and speaking to people in Europe and North America over the phone, they would all exclaim, “Oh, you’re on the equator,” or “Oh, you’re close to the equator.” But the title also is a comment on how abstract, decentralized, and increasingly networked the world has become. In the show I want to allude to new networks of exchange and am using myself as model for this, as I am a product of it. The title of the show is my way of saying that there’s a lot out there and art and culture have shifted economically. Europe and the United States no longer have the kind of power they once did.

Key to this presentation are the copper sheets I showed at Carlos/Ishikawa in London earlier this year. Originally they covered the floors, but here they feature as tables. I have a couple of interests in copper—it’s a historically versatile material and also was once incredibly cheap, so much so that it was used to build many of our urban areas. More important, it has a photographic quality—copper is a material that records touch. At Carlos/Ishikawa, the copper easily accumulated residue—shoe marks, fingerprints, and the stains left by wineglasses at the opening—so the room itself became a medium. In the present exhibition, the whole floor of Carlos/Ishikawa literally runs along one side of the South London Gallery as a shelf or a table protruding from the wall. This is key to revealing an idea of process, which usually happens when I’m painting on canvases: For instance, smudges happen gradually and unconsciously in my studio. These tables and other elements in the show will both be a continuum of processes and also offer insight into an evolving practice that includes more than just painting.

I’m not assuming I am terribly radical or have been around for decades, but I see this as an opportunity to shift attitude—the work here is not technically a move away from painting but more exposing the guts of my practice. I think it would have been quite pathetic, for instance, if I had installed a floor of canvases. I am particularly excited about not showing any paintings in this exhibition—at least, not any stretched ones. There are several loose canvases on view.

I have created my own lottery as part of this exhibition as well. I advertised the lottery of three works. So whoever is interested can purchase tickets through the gallery. Each ticket will be given a number and the other copy of that number will go into a hat. During the Frieze fair in October, I will host a ceremony to announce winners of a first, second, and third prize—each winner will receive an artwork, the medium to be revealed at the ceremony.

— As told to Julie Solovyeva