Friday, March 30, 2012

Soto Paris and Beyond, 1950-1970

The Paris avant-garde movement in the 1950's and 60's was filled with experimental innovations. Jesus Soto (1923-2005) was known for his use of color combinations with lines and layers in conjunction with viewer participation to change perception of objects. Grey Art Gallery at NYU is exhibiting a collection of two decades of Soto's experiments.

Soto's Kinetic sculptures/paintings are investigations of new ways of participation. He forces the audience to change the way we view art. One must move from side to side to see the vibration of Soto's pieces. One cannot fully enjoy a Soto piece just by standing still and starring at it. Once you begin to move around each piece the many layers of lines begin to visually vibrate. This effect is intense almost too much to handle because it tricks your eye and mind into thinking the piece is in motion. The layering of vertical line over horizontal line creates vibration and movement.

One of the biggest pieces in this show is Mural 1961. Paint on wire, wood, and mixed media, (109 1/2 x 194 x 24 3/8 in.) seems to be a mix of all his experiments into one large piece. On the right side of Mural the background is painted solid black, with white vertical lines painted over the black with many wires jolting out of the painting to create a large sculpture. The use of horizontal lines placed on top of vertical white lines creates an optical illusion of vibration. The piece almost seems to breath as you pass by it. The left side of Mural is painted flat black with many wires, tar, and engine parts attached to it. The vibrations of each piece is an exciting experience and forcing the audience to have to participate in art is always a nice touch.

Grey Art Gallery at NYU is showing a collection of two decades of Jesus Soto's experimental paintings and sculptures. Each piece requires participation from viewers which in turn causes physical displacement. The vibration and movement of each piece can make one nauseous. His use of simple colors schemes black and white with some hints of blue in conjunction with horizontal lines interacting with vertical lines causes visual vibration. His use of materials and the construction of each piece paired with participation is important. The viewer must move around each piece to understand it allowing our minds to connect what is real and what is just a visual trick. 

1 comment:

  1. I really like the enthusiasm that transpires from your review. The interest you transmit is contagious and encourages the reader to visit the exhibition. It 's interesting to see how your description is related to the physical experience you had visiting the show. You did a very nice job of describing the viewer’s interaction with the work. This aspect makes Soto’s work more interesting in terms of dynamism and instability . Just in the end you repeated an idea that it’s quite clear from the beginning of your piece. The exhibition is awsome. "Soto changed the way we view art" seems too general to me, or perhaps it has to be reformulated since this was your personal experience.