Today we are going to talk about an artist that also shows architecture in his work. Jesus Soto was a Venezuelan op and kinetic artist, sculptor and painter. He has had several exhibitions all throughout North America, such as in the Modern Museam of Art in New York, in the Guggenheim and in Paris. He participated in the Santa Fe biennial for several years and to this day, although he died in 2005, his works are still being exhibited worldwide.
What are Op and Kinetic Art?
Op art is a form of abstract art that gives the illusion of movement by using the same pattern and color while kinetic art depends on movement for it to have an effect. What Soto does is that he includes both forms of art in one to have an “Op” sculpture be kinetic/movable so you can see the same repeating pattern of colors moving.
One of his first works was La Boite, exhibited in 1967 in the Ranivilu Art Gallery in Miami. He used industrial and synthetic materials such as nylon and steel to produce these sculptural reliefs.
His works deal with pure abstraction, color theory and a dynamism between the background and the foreground. This way, Soto stimulates optical effects through the manipulation of the colors. In this work, it is relevant the idea of the Russian constructivists such as Piet Mondrian. Mondrian was the founder of the Neo-Plasticism, which is a form of abstract art with vertical and horizontal lines and subdivide the canvas into rectangles. By studying Mondrian’s paintings, Soto started to make forms appear to move optically.
All his paintings have to do with tricks of visual perception, using the rules of perspective, by mixing colors to give the impression of light and shadow. Using shapes that give the illusion of a three dimensional space. Kinesthetically, the paintings give the viewer a sense of visual tension and release movement.
His most recent work of art, Penetrable is the very first of his works where the individual can actually go inside of it. Before, he had had various works of art with dangling pieces of metals and different colors, such as the sphere in Caracas, Venezuela.
In this one, Soto started to engage the viewers and making the participate. In the case of Penetrable, which has been showed all around the world, now in Perez Aart Musem in Miami, PAMM, he implies an architecturally scaled structure which is intended to be pierced optically and physically by the viewer. The interactive aspect is meant to be introduced to museums, where sometimes works are not supposed to be “touched.” However, he does want people to touch his artworks and to feel their space. Made with basic industrial materials, the bulk is comprised of blue plastic hoses that are suspended from a steel grid. When viewers walk through it, they disappear in it and become part of the work.
It is a very interesting and experiential piece of artwork where he starts to dematerialize the effects of light on the inside. In his words, he believes that “the man is no longer here and the world there, he is inside the fullness and it’s this fullness that I want to make people feel.”
The architectural work/installation can be easily altered by human contact or even by natural elements such as rain and wind. The work is in constant change. It is very playful and sensorial.