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Jesús Rafael Soto

Venezuelan  •  1923-2005

Biography

Jesús Rafael Soto was born in Ciudad Bolívar and studied at the School of Visual and Applied Arts in Caracas. During this period he became acquainted with Los Disidentes, a group of artists that included Alejandro Otero and Carlos Cruz-Diez. In addition to his fellow compatriots, Soto’'s work was influenced by Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian.

The main artistic tenets evinced in Soto's works are pure abstraction, vibrations, progressions and geometric rigor. They can be seen through the use of lines and superimposed squares in his sculptures, made with paint and a series of industrial and synthetic materials. He spent much time in Europe, becoming a key member of the Group Zero movement, which included such artists as Lucio Fontana, Gunther Uecker and Yves Klein. As a result, Soto's work also incorporates modernist concepts such as light, time, movement, color manipulation and space. All of these facets place him as an important figure within the Kinetic and Op Art movements.

Insights

  • Malevich's painting White on White (1918) became a constant inspiration, after Soto initially learned of the work through a verbal description by a friend who had seen it in New York.

  • Soto's Penetrables are considered his most important body of sculptures. They consist of square arrays of thin, dangling tubes through which viewers can walk. Soto made over 25 of these important works throughout his career.

  • Very early on in his career, Soto abandoned pictorial representation. The few pieces he produced at that moment were already of very high caliber and conveyed a coherent and mature body of work.

"Artistic creation...should preferably be directed towards the exploration of space...of the infinite realities which surround us, but of which we are hardly conscious."

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