Turner Prize winner Oscar Murillo’s latest show is taking place in the Catholic secondary school where he was a pupil
In 2019 the Turner Prize jury made a surprise announcement: there would be no overall winner, as the four nominees – Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Tai Shani and Oscar Murillo – had requested that, at a time of division, the prize money be shared between them as a statement of solidarity. Whose idea was this? It was presented as a joint decision, but I suspect it may have originated with Murillo, the Colombian-born British artist whose multidisciplinary work – be it painting, installation or performance – has always been rooted in a passionate egalitarianism informed by his own family’s life experiences.
Since his student days, Murillo has been preoccupied with the role of art in a liberal democracy. His MA dissertation at the Royal College, titled “Open to the Public”, critiqued New Labour’s bien pensant promotion of the “creative industries” as ways of “re-establishing a sense of community, of identity, of civic pride”. It dared to ask the awkward question: “How important will the arts be to a public struggling to survive in deprived areas of Britain?”