Magazine article Artforum International

Jesus Rafael Soto: Galerie Perrotin

Magazine article Artforum International

Jesus Rafael Soto: Galerie Perrotin

Article excerpt


Jesus Rafael Soto


Jesus Rafael Soto's late works stage elaborate visual puzzles. Take Sans titre (Aleatoire 2) (Untitled [Random 2]), 1996, as an example. More than six feet high and thirteen across, this mural-scale construction features ultrathin white vertical stripes on a black ground. Superimposed on this surface is a grid of sixteen by thirty-two tiny squares, some raised off the plane and some lying flat. The majority of the squares have the same pattern of stripes set horizontally, so that these clash painfully with the verticals behind them, producing the signature "vibration" effect of Op art. Twenty-four of the squares are various solid colors, including black and white; like the striped ones, some are raised and some lie flush. The rigidly organized accents of color recall an icon of the persistence of geometric abstraction in postwar Paris: Ellsworth Kelly's Colors for a Large Wall, 1951. But unlike Kelly's squares, Soto's stripes dazzle the eye and utterly confuse the quite literal figure-ground relationships, so that it is hard to see what is flat and what is in relief, even as there is always a sense that the object has literal depth. The only way to make sense of things is to move forward and backward, checking and rechecking, in a rather straightforward, even cold, revisitation of the 1960s-era "open work."


"Chronochrome" was curated by Matthieu Poirier, previously the organizer, along with Serge Lemoine, behind "Dynamo: A Century of Light and Motion in Art, 1913-2013" at Paris's Reunion des Musees Nationaux Grand Palais in 2013. Split between Perrotin's spaces in Paris and New York, the show joined a larger reconsideration of kinetic art both in France (where the Venezuelan artist moved in 1950) and abroad, most notably in the US, with the recent "ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Unlike both "ZERO" and Estrellita Brodsky's comparative view of Soto at New York University's Grey Art Gallery in 2012, however, Poirier did not emphasize the artist's personal and formal links with Nouveau Realisme or other neo-Dada tendencies in an internationalized Paris circa 1960. …

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