Photo: "Un Lugar Distante" by Rafael Soriano
This summer two major paintings by Cuban master Rafael Soriano were given to the Smithsonian American Art Museum for its permanent collection. These two works, Un Lugar Distante (A Distant Place) (1972) and Candor de la Alborada (Candor of Dawn) (1994), represent significant moments in Soriano’s artistic production.
“These important paintings by Rafael Soriano are excellent additions to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection,” said Dr. E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “While the museum’s collection includes important works by Cuban American artists—especially those that were educated in the United States like Ana Mendieta and Maria Brito—these Soriano acquisitions allow us to capture the perspective of the first generation of Cuban exiles who arrived as adults with significant careers in Cuba already under their belt.”
A founder and early director of the School of Fine Arts in his native Matanzas, Soriano was a committed member of the communal life of his city. A member of the third Cuban avant-garde, Soriano’s early work in Cuba was a manifestation of geometric abstraction. Throughout the 1950s, he exhibited and was associated with the Pintores Concretos group of artists that introduced geometric and concrete abstraction in Cuba.
Soriano’s art experienced an extraordinary transformation along with his personal life as a Cuban exile. Soriano developed rectilinear, angular compositions endowed with strong, flat colors and forms that gave way to organic ones, and color became simultaneously deep and diaphanous. Soriano transforms abstraction into a visual space where forms express metaphysical and spiritual concerns, not unlike those found in the works of his fellow Americans Mark Rothko and William Baziotes. Un Lugar Distante and Candor de la Alborada are excellent examples of these shifts and resolutions.
Un Lugar Distante will be featured in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s forthcoming exhibition Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, opening Oct. 25, 2013.
“Candor de la Alborada” by Rafael Soriano