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Oscar Murillo

Oscar Murillo: The Flooded Garden

This summer, artist Oscar Murillo invites visitors of all ages to make their mark on a vast, layered painting in the Turbine Hall. Part of UNIQLO Tate Play, Tate Modern’s free programme of art for all in partnership with UNIQLO, The flooded garden encourages visitors to paint water and waves over monumental canvases, creating a collaborative painting of epic proportions. The installation takes inspiration from Claude Monet’s Water Lilies depicting his garden in Giverny, France, while building on Murillo’s series of Surge works, which feature gestural strokes in oil paint flowing across the canvas like water. 

Visitors will enter a curved structure framed by towering walls of canvas that have been populated with hundreds of hand-drawn messages and drawings by international visitors to Tate Modern. Audiences are invited to layer wave-like brushstrokes atop the canvases, with their gestures flowing together to create The flooded garden, painting in hues of deep blues, bright yellows and pinks. These continually evolving collaborative paintings will then remain on display in the Turbine Hall for all to see. 

A display of Murillo’s own works in Tate Modern’s South Tank will provide further inspiration for visitors, expanding and reflecting on the themes explored in the artist’s Surge series. Influenced by Claude Monet’s celebrated Water Lilies paintings, created while Monet was experiencing cataracts, Murillo draws similarities between this loss of sight and the way people can be ‘socially blind’ – impeding our ability to truly understand one another. Murillo calls this idea ‘social cataracts’, explaining ‘we are in this kind of blinded existence, the façade of beauty’. Having first exhibited Surge works in 2019, Murillo continued to develop the series during the global pandemic. Unable to travel, he spent this time in his hometown in Colombia, where he divided his time between the studio and working with his community, in what he describes as a time of “social collapse”. 

On show in the South Tank will be a survey of this series over the years, varying in scale from monumental to more intimate examples. Murillo’s site-specific Mesmerizing Beauty 2024 installation will flood the centre of the space with white plastic garden chairs holding framed works on paper, bearing the artist’s distinctive, flowing marks in oil paint. Often incorporated into Murillo’s exhibitions and performances, these simple chairs evoke informal community or family gatherings and have strong connotations of something easily discarded. Encircled by a multi-panelled installation of the artist’s Surge (social cataracts) 2019-2024 paintings, suspended from the ceiling, the artist’s layered blue gestures flow cyclically around the space, symbolic of the connecting fluidity of water, and mirroring the curved interactive structures in the Turbine Hall. 

All year round, UNIQLO Tate Play stages participatory art commissions and offers free activities to families visiting Tate Modern, encouraging people of all ages to play together and get creative. The programme is always made available to all, inspired by the belief that art and play are for everyone. Since launching in 2021 it has commissioned large-scale projects by renowned artists including Rasheed Araeen, Yayoi Kusama and Ei Arakawa that have been enjoyed by more than 400,000 people. Building on this incredible success, UNIQLO have extended their support of the programme for a further 5 years, from 2024 to 2029.

Exhibition Opening Times:

  • 20 July 2024 – 26 August 2024 
  • Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG 
  • Open daily 10.00–18.00  
  • Admission free