“Do you know Peckham? It’s the new Bethnal Green!” I was all proud to tell Mr BB that I had been to see art in Peckham, a neighbourhood I had never heard of before. I continued “I saw art in a parking lot.” “Yes, Bold Tendencies, on two floors” answered Mr BB, clearly cooler than me. My dear reader and friend E. again came with me on a Sights of Peckham tour. We went first to the South London gallery to see Oscar Murillo’s site specific show: “If I was to draw a line, this journey started approximately 400km north of the equator”. Murillo was there to introduce his solo exhibition, which runs until December 1st.
Many questions came to my mind while viewing Murillo’s show. Did he decide ahead of time the position of the objects? I decided yes overall, but not in every detail like the finger and shoe prints. I later learnt from the artist himself that this wasn’t in fact the right conclusion. I also wondered why he used so much corn – was there a message about the world’s agriculture vs. nutrition? Murillo explained that corn is a staple food and the basis of different meals in many countries. Further in the show, there were ball-shapes on the floor that reminded me of Magritte’s. Nearby were two chess games. Was Murillo inspired by surrealism? I have not evidence to dispute this observation. However, the chess pieces were pre-Columbian recipients for coca leaves… so maybe not.
Murillo explained he aimed to suppress painting and show more his practice. There are paintings in the exhibition but not on the walls. I felt he downgraded the status of painting. He even described painting as a by-product. I jumped on him after the introduction wishing to ask him my questions – among a few who dared. He said he did not want to reject paintings, after all, he is known for his painting works. In part 2 of his show, visitors can buy lottery tickets for a whooping £2,500 each to win a prize to be revealed at the Frieze Art Fair.
For me, seeing art in Peckham was indeed seeing art in unusual places. I would have not come by myself – it was a Tate Patrons event. We continued our tour at the Arcadia Missa and the Sunday Painter galleries. I did not decipher the works on show. Seeing Bold Tendencies, a summertime new art commissioning project, in a parking lot was a stimulating experience: art in very unusual places. I looked at the 12 site-specific installations: sculptures, live performance art and video installations. On the latter, I noticed that there were many videos at the Venice Biennale, some of which I liked – my friend E. disliked them. I then wondered is painting passé? Is Painting not fashionable in contemporary art?