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The French curator DanielAbadie’s interviews with Jesús Rafael Soto. Structured as a biography, it begins with the art world of Venezuela, in Ciudad Bolívar, where Soto was born, and tells us of his work at the Escuelas de Bellas Artes in Caracas and Maracaibo. It goes on from there to focus on the period when he was developing his thinking and philosophy about Abstract art, once he was established in Paris (in the early 1950s). The interview also covers his relationship with other contemporary artists working in the French capital. The readers learn of Soto’s first contact with the work of Paul Cézanne and about his discovery of Cubism, which were his first influences. Among those artists, Kazmir Malevich and Piet Mondrian are remarked. Finally, the interview addresses various aspects of the artist’s work.
This interview by the curator of the Musée National d’Art Moderne, subsequently director of the Musée du Jeu de Paume (both in Paris), Daniel Abadie, was published in the catalogue for the exhibition Soto: Cuarenta Años de Creación 1943-1983. The exhibition was held at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Caracas during the month of July 1983. In fact, that was the first exhibition by Jesús Rafael Soto (1923–2005) at that Venezuelan museum. Abadie seeks to delve into the creative philosophy of Soto, introducing this artist with avant-garde ideas in all his humanity and highlighting various aspects of his personality. He sets forth the most important concepts reflected to the entire body of the artist’s work, starting with the importance the artist attributes to “relations” between the different elements of art, instead of focusing on these individually. The writer goes on to point out Soto’s use of time (the fourth dimension) and space (empty), the integration of his work with architecture and the search for the interaction between the individual/ viewer and the work. In his opinion, the artist finally fully achieved the desired emphasis on that interaction in the (series called) Penetrables. In the interview, Soto remarks the evolution of these concepts while searching for an art that is purely abstract, free of any trace of figurative art. One of the most interesting fragments of the interview is the section on the nascent movement of “Kinetic art,” in which the artist states that he hates that term intensely. He acknowledges that neither his work, nor that of Yaacov Agam and Jean Tinguely, has given rise to any “ism.” In spite of having certain ideas in common, he believes his works have very different styles. The interview accords much importance to the way in Soto recurs to time and space as vital elements in the perception of his work. This turns out to be a general characteristic raised in all the texts in the catalogue, particularly when discussing how Soto manages time as a fourth dimension in order to leave behind any link the painting may have to a specific period. [For other texts on the artist Jesús Soto, see the ICAA digital archive: two texts by Alfredo Boulton, “Jesús Soto 1971” (doc. no. 1059661) and “El cinetismo de Soto” (doc. no. 1069749); one by Ariel Jiménez “Jesus Soto: Lo visible y lo posible” (doc. no. 1073684); one by Alejandro Otero “Las Estructuras cinéticas de Jesús Soto” (doc. no. 850667); among many other texts.].