A Venezuelan op and kinetic sculptor and painter, Jesús Rafael Soto is regarded as a defining figure of both the Op Art movement and Kinetic Sculpture. He is known for his trademark reliefs made of industrial and synthetic materials such as nylon and steel.
Born in Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela, Soto began copying reproduction of paintings he found in magazines, books and almanacs from an early age. At the age of sixteen, he became a poster painter for the movie theaters in for the movie theaters in his town. After receiving a scholarship from the Guyana regional authority to study at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Artes Aplicadas in Caracas, he took classes in "pure art" and the training course for instructors in art education and history. After completing his studies, he was appointed the director of the School of Art in the small town of Maracaibo and also taught at the Baralt high school and at the local teacher training college. After coming in contact with a group of surrealist students, he was encouraged to take up a career as an artist.
In his work, Soto dealt with pure abstraction, color theory, and the dynamic between background and foreground. His delicate and responsive constructions reacted to external stimuli and changes in the atmosphere, as seen in his most famous work Penetrable from 1990.
Featured image: Jesús Rafael Soto - Ecriture bleu central, 1999 (detail). Paint on wood and metal, nylon. 81 9/10 × 119 7/10 in. 208 × 304 cm. Photo courtesy Perrotin