Venezuela: Interacting with the Works of Artist Jesus Soto

The works of Venezuelan artist Jesús Soto (1923 – 2005) are among the most famous representations of Latin American modern art, known mostly for his kinetic works. Soto was born in Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela, where he began working as a painter of cinema posters. He received his education in the cities of Caracas and Maracaibo, but it was in Paris where his career took a powerful turn. His most famous works are the “penetrables,” which are interactive sculptures consisting of an array of square, thin, dangling tubes of shiny colors made from plastic and in which the public can walk through.

Photo of a child in a Soto exhibit by Alé and used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo of a child in a Soto exhibit by Alé and used under a Creative Commons license.

According to the art experts, Soto's art is inseparable from the viewer, who is an active participant of the artist’s piece. The illusion and the senses are completed by the perceptions of the mind as a result of observing, touching, and becoming part of the piece. Venezuelan bloggers and the online community in general, celebrate his art through articles, reviews, and videos taken in museums and inside the works themselves, while explaining the meaning of Soto’s works in their culture, landscape and daily life.

In his blog Literanova [es], Eduardo Casanova goes a bit deeper on Soto’s life and gives an insight of the history of the city he was born:

Jesús Rafael Soto nació en Venezuela, en 1923, en una población cargada de historia: Ciudad Bolívar, donde se instituyó la prensa escrita y se fraguó la creación de la llamada Gran Colombia (…) Era una población aislada, sin museos ni actividades del arte. El mismo ha dicho que aprendió solo el arte de la pintura. Deja su ciudad natal y viaja a Maracaibo, en el occidente del país, para encargarse de la dirección de una escuela de artes plásticas. En 1950 se va a París y allí comienza su carrera de artista creador de nuevas formas.

Jesus Soto was born in 1923 in a city full of history: Ciudad Bolívar, where the press was released for the first time in the country and the creation of the Great Colombia was conceived. This was an isolated population, with no museums or art activities. He used to say that he learned how paint by himself. He left his birth town and went to Maracaibo, in the western part of the country to be Director of a school of Arts. In 1950, Soto went to Paris and that is where he started the creation of new forms (of art).
Photo of Soto Sphere in Caracas by Guillermo Ramos Flamerich under a GNU Free Documentation License

Photo of Soto Sphere in Caracas by Guillermo Ramos Flamerich under a GNU Free Documentation License

The YouTube channel of VenezuelaTuya gives an example of an experience walking through a piece exhibited in the Jesús Soto Museum, in Ciudad Bolívar:

The blog Talento Venezolano [es] also dedicates a space to talk about the artists and his most famous creations:

En 1967 creó la primera obra de la serie Penetrables, la cual consiste en instalaciones de tubos de plástico a través de los cuales el espectador se siente en un espacio mágico. Ambas obras que pudieron admirarse en el Museo de Arte Moderno, en el Grand Palais y el Centro Pompidou de París.

In 1967 (Soto) created the first of his “Penetrables”, which are plastic tubes through which the spectator can feel him/herself in a magical space. Both works were exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art, the Grand Palais and the Pompidou Center in Paris.

You Tube has also been a way for people to show their contact and emotions while interacting with Soto’s works. Children in particular, have had a special approach to the artistic experience inside the artist’s work, which has been shown and shared through these videos:

YouTube user elizaul1:

and YouTube user skaracas:

At the artist's webpage there are more galleries and information.

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