Jesús Rafael Soto often told the story of a moment that inspired his work in kinetic art. “I remember the awe I felt as I saw the vibration of the air through the reverberation of the sun upon the earth. It was something I never tired of seeing – that vibrating mass floating in space.”
In the 50 years following that impression, the world-renowned Venezuelan artist sought to evoke some semblance of that phenomenon. He works within the confines and limitations of the corporeal world yet achieves effects proportional to those of the natural world. Soto’s work expresses sensory information intangibly. His dynamic sculptures and installations embody formalism of the highest degree, and are represented in the permanent collections of major museums internationally, including MoMA and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Tate Gallery, London, and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires.
Azul con Rojo presents a perfect opportunity to appreciate Soto’s genius in balancing the spheres of physics, geometry, and human perception. Here, he utilizes a simple design of carefully calculated spatial and color relationships of two large squares – one of red and one of blue – staged against contrasting backgrounds of white and black. Upon that backdrop, he offers a geometric construct containing smaller squares that appear to float above a shimmering, vibratory ground. It is a kinetic work that depends on the viewer’s involvement, creating the illusion of movement as the observer moves in relation to the construct.
Soto identified with the Op Art movement and drew inspiration from his peers in 1950’s Paris, Victor Vasarely, Jean Tinguely, and Yaacov Agam. Avant-garde innovations agreed with Soto’s interest in the immaterial and ethereal, and he is celebrated as a key figure in both Kinetic and Op Art movements.