Jesús Rafael Soto

Jesús Rafael Soto, born in 1923 in Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela, was a pioneer of Op and Kinetic Art. He received a scholarship to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Caracas from 1942 to 1947. Soto then served as the director of the School of Fine Arts in Maracaibo from 1947 to 1950, at which time he moved to Paris. During this period of time, he opened his first one-man exhibition, held at the Taller Libre de Arte in Caracas in 1949.

Once in Paris, Soto associated with Jean Tinguely and Victor Vasarely getting involved with the Galerie Denise René and the Nouveau Réalistes. His 1951 paintings are based on the repetition of identical geometrical units, whereas his 1952-1957 work is highlighted by the superimposition of perspex sheets marked with a stripe or spiral pattern in front of a patterned plane; the movement of the spectator caused the lines to appear to move, vibrate and dematerialise.

Soto participated in the group exhibition Le Mouvement at Galerie Denise René in 1955, the exhibition that helped to popularize and launch Kinetic Art in the art scene of the time.
For many years subsequently, Soto’s art oscillated between organic forms and geometry. From 1962 his main focus became the production of paintings with suspended with bars, fixed plaques, and other range of materials. It would not be until 1965 that he created a number of wall-sized pieces, where the main motif was the repetition of identical units. Soto developed this concept until it became the environmental installations known as 'Penetrables', with a great number of hanging rods or threads.
Soto passed away at the age of 81 in 2005.