Jesús Rafael SOTO: Chronochrome

‘Doble progresión azul y negra', 1975. At Gallerie Perrotin in Paris. Photography credit; Livia Saavedra for Wallpaper.

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10th January – 28th February 2015 at Galerie Perrotin in Paris
15th January – 21st February 2015 at Galerie Perrotin in New York

Galerist Emmanuel Perrotin simultaneously unveils in his Paris and New York locations a retrospective of Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael SOTO (1923-2005). Matthew Poirrier curated this major exhibition, skillfully distributing more than sixty works spanning from 1957 to 2003 between the two spaces. The Turenne Street’s mansion in Paris impressively puts on show the evolutionary stages of this geometric, abstract and impalpable body of work.

Just as Victor Vasarely and Carlos Cruz-Diez, his compatriot, Soto is a major figure of Op Art or optical art, playing visual tricks to disrupt the viewer’s senses. In ‘Escritura metalica’ from 1975, the regular rhythm of black and white lines brings out the curved metal rods, giving the impression that the work is moving. No point of view is being privileged. The artist invites us to move around his works, which – depending on the viewpoint –

can emerge as either 2D paintings or 3D sculptures. In ‘Cube de Paris’ from 1990, the viewer travels around the installation ‘suspended in the air’ which appears changing and fleeting like a hologram. As in ‘Duomo Vientro Rosso’, 1997, a central, geometric, red portion resembles an energy nucleus around which the work appears in turn to materialize or dematerialize, emphasizing the vibration of colour.

 

Jesus Rafael SOTO, 'Cube de Paris', 1990 at Galerie Perrotin, Paris

Jesus Rafael SOTO, ‘Cube de Paris’, 1990 at Galerie Perrotin, Paris

A similar vibration of monochrome colour invites the viewer to enter ‘Penetrables BBL Blue’ (1999). This monumental installation comes into life when the visitor passes through a forest of hanging blue ropes, incorporating the artist and the viewer. The artist writes about the series ‘Penetrables’, which he started in the late 60’s: “A man is not here and the world there. He is in the whole, and this whole is what I wish to express in my wrapping works”. Soto presents us with a work in progress made of colours and shapes in perpetual reconstruction.

Jesus Rafael SOTO. ‘Pénétrable BBL Bleu’ 1999. Photo credit: Livia Saavedra for Wallpaper.

Jesus Rafael SOTO. ‘Pénétrable BBL Bleu’ 1999. Photo credit: Livia Saavedra for Wallpaper.

“The universe, I believe, is uncertain and unstable. The same must be true of my work”. Impermanence is key in Soto’s body of work and each movement or vibration transforms his pieces, awakening the viewer’s senses. Like poetry or music, the production of his pieces requires an extreme discipline in order to achieve harmony.

Pénétrable Washington (detail), 1975. DR. ©Jesús Rafael Soto / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris, 2015. Courtesy Galerie Perrotin

Pénétrable Washington (detail), 1975. DR. ©Jesús Rafael Soto / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris, 2015. Courtesy Galerie Perrotin

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