Rafael Soriano: The Artist as Mystic

Exhibition Website

Jan 30 2017 - Jun 4 2017

Cuban painter Rafael Soriano (1920–2015) was an acclaimed master of geometric abstraction and a global figure in the twentieth-century art world; his work resonated with international artists of Latin American origin like Roberto Matta, Rufino Tamayo, and Wifredo Lam. As a result of the Revolution in Cuba, in 1962 Soriano immigrated to the United States. An unprecedented examination of his life’s work, this exhibition focuses on the multiple influences that nurtured a style where, in his words, “the intimate and the cosmic converge.”

Featuring more than ninety paintings, pastels, and drawings from the Rafael Soriano Family Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Art Museum of the Americas, and Long Beach Museum of Art as well as other institutions and private collections, The Artist as Mystic begins with Soriano’s works in the Cuban geometric abstract style. It then moves to his transitional, experimental paintings from the 1960s and 1970s reminiscent of surrealist biomorphism. The exhibition concludes with luminous, mystical imagery in paintings from Soriano’s mature period.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website

Whether you go or not, the bilingual English-Spanish exhibition catalog, Rafael Soriano: The Artist as Mystic/El artista como místico, begins with a contextual analysis of Soriano’s relationship to the Cuban avant-garde and his position within the emerging mid-century modernists. Essays then trace his evolving styles, examining his work through the lens of surrealism and European and Latin American transnational aesthetics. The idea of exile and struggle is a leitmotif and is framed within questions of transcendence and spirituality. Taken together, the contributions suggest both Soriano’s rootedness in Latin America and his striving for universality.

The most comprehensive exploration of Soriano’s work to date, Rafael Soriano: The Artist as Mystic/El artista como místico deftly takes the idea of exile and struggle so prominent in the artist’s work and frames it within important questions of transcendence and spirituality. This book will be essential reading for anyone intrigued by Latin American and modern art.

  • Latin American
  • 20th Century
  • Caribbean
  • Abstraction
  • Rafael Soriano

Exhibition Venues & Dates