Oscar Murillo: Frequencies

May 12, 2023 - March 10, 2024

Oscar Murillo is delighted to present Frequencies, an exhibition at Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Initiated by Oscar Murillo in 2013, Frequencies is a decade-long research project that has informed multiple bodies of work, exhibitions, and interventions within the artist’s practice, reflecting on global communities, collectivity, and modes of empathy. 

The Frequencies project sees blank canvases fixed to classroom desks in over 450 schools world-wide. Students aged 10-16 are invited to freely draw, write-on and mark the canvases over a period of 6 months, alongside their daily activities. The resulting canvases, with their accumulation of both conscious and unconscious markings, form a monumental collection of over 60,000 examples, bearing the marks of hundreds of thousands of individual students, and allows an insight into the collective unconscious of youth in a process of social becoming. 

At Javett Art Centre, Murillo will exhibit over 10,000 canvases from across the Global South, including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Honduras, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, and Zambia. The exhibition will also display canvases collected from schools local to Pretoria. With the help of archive assistants, the Frequencies canvases will be on display for exhibition goers to explore, alongside a mural detailing statistics about the canvases and the countries they have travelled from. The individual posters that compose the mural are a new way of representing the geographical breadth and richness of the Frequencies archive. Inspired by the popular Match Attax cards for children; the mural reflects an inherent playfulness, demonstrating how the paraphernalia of the everyday can be used to disrupt global, geographical hierarchies. Further compounding this, Javett will also hold a public programme of events across zine classes, film screenings, and song workshops, extending the logic of the exhibition. 

In concurrence, the exhibition will present paintings from Murillo’s series entitled Disrupted Frequencies, and a selection of his Flight Drawings. In the Disrupted Frequencies series, the artist draws physically from the Frequencies archive, sourcing canvases and stitches them together to form a composite ground – a technique characteristic of his practice – before working on top using oil bars, primarily in varying shades of blue. These paintings, as their title suggests, are an intentional disruption of the intellectual project of an archive, placing canvases from different regions together to create collisions, intersections and new geographies. Murillo’s Flight Drawings also reflect on the poetics of globalisation, created onboard planes as an extension of the artist’s constant, transnational travel. 

The exhibition will also include a digital element, in collaboration with Oscar Murillo’s platform AYT (Arepas Y Tamales): a creative space which nurtures partnerships and collaborations under the collective scope of disruption. In this iteration, the Frequencies archive is mined for motifs - skulls, faces, flags, hearts - which are collected and used as the basis for figurines, which exhibition goers can digitally interact with via a network of cameras and screens within the exhibition space. 

About Oscar Murillo:

Oscar Murillo was born in 1986 in La Paila, Colombia, and lives and works in various locations. He earned a BA (Hons) in Fine Arts at the University of Westminster in 2007 and an MA from the Royal College of Art, London in 2012. In 2019, Murillo was one of four artists to collectively be awarded the prestigious Turner Prize. Oscar Murillo’s work constitutes a sustained and evolving investigation of notions of community, informed by cross-cultural personal ties, as well as the constant transnational movement that has become integral to Murillo’s practice. Murillo's works and projects have been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions worldwide. Murillo is represented by Carlos/Ishikawa, David Zwirner, Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie, Kurimanzutto and Taka Ishii Gallery. 

Find out more about Frequencies via their website, www.frequenciesproject.info.

Image credit: Photography by Anthea Pokroy. Image courtesy the artist.