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Jesús Rafael Soto composes his autobiography from his childhood through 1967, the time of this editorial essay. It is divided into three parts: the first part covers his childhood and his youth in the city of Bolivar, the place where he first encounters art and painting. The second part, between1942 and 1950, describes his artistic and intellectual development starting at the age of nineteen and while he is living in the cities of Caracas and Maracaibo. The third section starts with his arrival in Paris in 1950 and where he really begins searching for a pure and abstract art detached from figurative art, as well as the elaboration of the concepts that are vital to the importance of contemporary art in general.


This autobiographical text was published in the editorial supplement of the newspaper Imagen, following a visit by Jesús Soto (1923-2005) to Venezuela between June and July 1967. At the same time, an exhibition of the work by the artist, De l’art optique a l’art cinétique, was being presented in Paris, encompassing both venues of the Galerie Denise René in the French capital, where Soto’s first Penetrable was on view. The text was published in the book Jesús Soto (Caracas: INCIBA, 1967), and later in 1973 in the exhibition catalogue on the same work that was presented at the Galería de Arte Inciba Pro-Venezuela, Soto: Pintura Figurativa 1944–1950 clearly emphasizing the move to Paris and the relationships established with the artists that were residing there. Upon his arrival, Soto contacted Los Disidentes [The Dissidents], a group of Venezuelan artists who questioned the official figurative art galleries in Caracas. He built friendships within the group and worked on becoming current with the new trends, artists, and galleries without participating in the group, preferring instead to search and assert his own perspective on abstraction. He established friendships with artists of his generation (Dewasne, Vasarely, and Pillet), without being fully identified as belonging to it, instead focusing on something completely separate from form or reference to figurative art. For Soto, they rationalized figurative art. In the third part of his autobiography he points out his present ideas, thoughts, and philosophy about visual art, thereby embodying the fundamental principles and ideas necessary for the effective understanding of his work. The full text was recorded and transcribed by Luis Navarro, who six years earlier had published an article in the magazine Shell relative to the synthesis of the visual art project undertaken by Carlos Raúl Villanueva (1952). That text, “Pintura y Escultura en la Ciudad Universitaria” is one of the few that mentioned the participation of Soto in this project, describing the work as a “stable” instead of as a “kinetic” structure.


For other references written on Soto, consult the ICAA digital archive: by Alfredo Boulton, “El cinetismo de Soto” (doc. no. 1069749), as well as the one, “Jesús Soto 1971” (doc. no. 1059661); the essay by Ariel Jiménez, “Jesus Soto: Lo visible y lo posible” (doc. no. 1073684); the articles by Alejandro Otero, “Las Estructuras cinéticas de Jesús Soto” (doc. no. 850667) and also by Carlos Diez Sosa, “Jesús Rafael Soto: La Gran Pintura es cosa de progreso histórico” (doc. no. 1097076); the text by Guillermo Meneses, “Soto” (doc. no. 1080690); “Soto: Estructuras cinéticas” (doc. no. 1059619); (untitled) [included in the catalogue “Vibrations by Soto” de The Kootz Gallery, 1965] (doc. no. 1069781); the texts by Roberto Guevara, “La energia como realidad” (doc. no. 1102332) and by Vladimir Tismaneanu, “La metafísica del espacio en la obra de Soto” (doc. no. 1101524); the interviews by Roberto Guevara, “La nueva lectura de la realidad: Una conversación con el maestro Jesús Soto” (doc. no. 1059731)].
Juan Carlos Azpúrua
Fundación Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
Jesus Rafael Soto, 1967
Biblioteca Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas, Plaza de Los Museos, Parque los Caobos, Caracas 1010, República Bolivariana de Venezuela