Artist Statement

I use photography, video, sculpture and installation to transform the complex visual structures of nature into artistic objects. Grounded in the formal and aesthetic strategies of Formalism, Minimalism and the Gestalt principles, my work invites the viewer to consider his or her own perception of form and light in the natural landscape.

Recently, I have furthered my artistic exploration by creating a series of wall bound sculptures and installations, made of white Plexiglas, in which the geometric abstractions of natural forms are repeated, re-imagined, and filled with light. Forms appear multistable, popping back and forth between alternative interpretations. These geometric structures are diagrams of the kind of order that can be seen in nature. Through their patterns and repetitions the work evoke the rhythms of the universe. They call to mind the concepts of sacred geometry as well as Plato’s Timaeus and his account of the formation of the universe.

The use of industrial materials like Plexiglas and LED lights, and a technology like laser cutting, are indicators of the economy where my works are inscribed.

Soto, 2015



“Soto has been working on abstract photography for years, creating visual universes with liquids that, by being photographed, suggest the world of cells, the veins of marble, or the world of outer space. However, in the work included in this exhibition, the visible world and its references are completely present and Soto shows how simple an abstraction can be: by changing the orientation of the photo, the world looses its boundaries and nature appears, like in Russian Formalism, like something strange and therefore, something abstract.”

Mercedes Trelles-Hernández, Curator
Excerpt from of the essay for the exhibition 35 Years of Photography in Puerto Rico, National Art Exhibition at the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, San Juan, PR (2011)

“José Soto has taken images from Fox Television’s Good Day New York and edited out all the words, leaving just the breath that precedes each phrase spoken on the show. “I realized that there was a sound pattern generated by the reporter’s breathing that could be extracted through editing. What I wanted to do was create a new experience for the viewer, one that could reveal the moment of truth: the moment when this public figure is forced, by the need to breathe, to be a human being and a part of nature.” The artist employs images from the mass media as a strategy for playfully showing us our inescapable need for two things: breathing as the source of life, and the morning news. In his photographic work he explores the Formalism and German Gestalt theories to further understand “what makes beauty.” ”

Arlette de la Serna, Curator
Excerpt from the essay for the exhibition 11 in 2011: Video-Art and Experimental Film at the Museo de Arte Ponce (about José Soto’s Morning Breeze video, included in the show), Ponce, PR (2011)

“Acknowledging the difference in scale between the camera obscura and the daguerreotype, Soto explores landscapes in a deliberately small format, forcing us to observe through a receding frame that subsides into a funnel-like shape and fixes our gaze in an interior, which happens to be an exterior that we know is huge but we see on an intimate scale. Created in transparencies and brightened up by light, these landscapes in negative shine as if they were unreal, providing the strange experience that the first daguerreotypes must have caused. This miniature landscape disorients us and yet allows us to gain awareness of photography as a medium for fiction.”

Lilliana Ramos-Collado, Writer and Curator
Excerpt from the essay for the exhibition Puerto Rico: Puerta al paisaje at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Juan, PR (2013)

“José Soto is a young artist who has departed from the path followed by most photographers in Puerto Rico. Since the days of Jack Delano to the present our photography has focused on the human face. Accustomed as we are to the portrait that reveals social realities, the enamored or changed landscape, or images of our urban and domestic surroundings, Soto’s photographs come across as shocking and pleasing at the same time. In them the recognizable world vanishes and we enter a strange terrain, some sort of science-fiction landscape or animated film, that suggests laboratory petri dish or the pattern formed by marble veins. In his work we encounter little spheres that defy gravity, gentle craters and lines of undulating force, suggestive of contorted bodies. Distanced from the faces of our people, our monuments or desires, in other words, from our immediate reality, these photographs present us with a playful and mysterious world, both pleasant and intimidating, one that invites introspection (…) Perhaps the most important meditation that these works elicit is about our expectations regarding contemporary art. Accustomed to novelty and biting irony, to disgust as therapy against complacency, these works come across as shocking because of their beauty and sincerity.”

Mercedes Trelles Hernández
Excerpt from Sincerity, Trelles’ essay for the catalog of the exhibition José Soto: Recent Works, Walter Otero Gallery and Viota Gallery, Güaynabo, PR (2009)

CV

Born: San Sebastián, PR, 1976
Lives and works in New York, NY

Education

2012 • Parsons The New School for Design, New School University, NY, NY
2012 • Master of Fine Arts, Photography Department
2000 • School of Plastic Arts, San Juan, PR
2000 • Bachelor in Fine Arts, Image and Design Department

Awards

2014 • Retrancado, fist_ART.FOUNDATION, Dorado, PR
2012 • Permm Stop, Museum of Contemporary Art, Perm, Russia
2008 • Finalist, Oriental Young Art Contest
2008 • Finalist, Lexus Grant for Artists
2007 • Award for Special Events Photography, XIX Excel Awards, Association of Public Relations
Professionals of Puerto Rico
2006 • Gold Award Fashion/Advertising, Single Image Contest, B&W Photography Magazine

Public Art

2016 • Focus, Flux Art Fair, Marcus Garvey Park Alliance
, New York City, NY
2014 • Retrancado, fist_ART.FOUNDATION, Dorado, PR
2012 • Permm Stop, Museum of Contemporary Art, Perm, Russia

Solo Exhibitions

2009 • José Soto: Recent Works, Walter Otero Gallery and Viota Gallery, Güaynabo, PR
2008 • Dimensiones, Payá Native Bistro, Güaynabo, PR
2008 • Acuario, Emporio Peroni, Condado, PR

Group Exhibitions

2017
2017 Whitney Biennial – Occupy Museums, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
2015
Camera Work, Parsons The New School for Design, New York, NY
Hot or Cold?, BronxArtSpace, Bronx, NY
Muestra Nacional de Arte, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, San Juan, PR
Art INCUBARTE 7, Museo Valenciano de la Ilustración y la Modernidad, Valencia, Spain
2013
Cakes and Handshakes, Neighboring Walls 2, Brooklyn, NY
Región 0: Video Art Festival, King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, New York
University, New York, NY, and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Vigo, Spain
Under the Subway Video Art Night, Local Projects, Long Island City, NY
Under the Subway Video Art Night: Compilation, Local Projects, Long Island City, NY
10+1, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Juan, PR
Igniting Self Expression: Works by Casita Maria’s Educators and their Students,
Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education, Bronx, NY
Puerto Rico: Puerta al Paisaje, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Juan, PR
Muestra Nacional de Arte, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, San Juan, PR

2012
HOME, Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education, Bronx, NY
21 Cousins, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, New School University, New York, NY
Charterparty, Photoville Photography Festival, Brooklyn, NY
Permm Stop, Museum of Contemporary Art, Perm, Russia
Parts & Labor, Tyler School of Arts, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Chu Le Ma, Frontrunner Gallery, New York, NY

2011
Pingyao International Photo Festival, Pingyao, China
FotoMac, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, San Juan, PR
Santurce es Ley, San Juan, PR
11 del 2011, Museo de Arte de Ponce, Ponce, PR
The Culture of Now, Aperture Magazine, New York, NY
Arte en el medio: 35 años de fotografía en Puerto Rico, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, San Juan, PR
Parsons MFA Photo Open Studio Show, Parsons, New York, NY
Conveyor Magazine, 25CPW Gallery, New York, NY
BigBang, Viota Gallery, San Juan, PR

2010
Arte y Azar, Museo de Arte de Ponce, Ponce, PR
Up & Coming, Viota Gallery and Petrus Gallery, San Juan, PR
Oriental Group Exhibition Booth, Circa Puerto Rico International Art Fair, San Juan, PR
Sex Sells, Arte Foundation, San Juan, PR

2009
Muestra Nacional de Arte, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, San Juan, PR
prints 995, Gallery Nine 5, New York, N.Y.
Small Format, Viota Gallery, San Juan, PR
Diptychs and Polyptychs, Gutiérrez-Bermúdez Collection, San Juan, PR
The New Phase, Viota Gallery, San Juan, PR

2008 • Exhibition of the First Young Art Awards, Oriental Group, San Juan, PR
2007 • Photography Show, Metropolitan University, San Juan, PR
2002 • Absolut Art in the Plaza, public art show in Old San Juan, PR
2000 • Exhibition of Students, School of Plastic Arts, San Juan, PR
1999 • Annual Show, School of Plastic Arts, San Juan, PR
1998 • Image and Design Show, School of Plastic Arts, San Juan, PR

Collections

FistArt Foundation
Arco Capital Management
Wilo Benet
Dinorah and Horacio Campolieto Collection
Gutiérrez-Bermúdez Collection
Jimenez-Colon Collection
Pabón Collection
Quiñones-Fernández Collection
León Collection
Maximum Digital Communications
Walter Otero Collection
fist_ART.FOUNDATION

Selected Bibliography

• Ifeanyi, KC. Fast Company, 10 Years of Incredible Photographs, From Parsons Alumni. July 2, 2015.
• Dunmyre, Dave. Thether Talk, Camera Work Exhibit at Parsons. June 21, 2015.
• Catalog of the Muestra Nacional de Arte. Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. May – June 2015. p. 147.
• El Vocero, Artistas se unen por el arte contemporáneo, June 13, 2013. p.40.
• El Nuevo Día, El Lente Abstracto, Jan 6 2012. p. 48.
• La Estrella, Artista del Pepino a Exhibir en Rusia, 12-18 Jan 2012.
• Catalog of the Pingyao International Photography Festival. Fall 2011. p. 341.
• Art Daily News, 11 in 2011, Museo de Arte de Ponce enters the age of video art with first online exhibit, Oct 5 2011.
• Paige, Dominica. Undressing the World. Coveyor Magazine. Spring 2011. pp. 46-47.
• Schonberger, Nick. Print 995. Curated. (http://www.curatedmag.com/news/2009/12/21/print-995/). December 2009.
• Martínez, Javier. Subasta por el MAP. Revista Autogiro / El giro del arte actual (http://autogiro.cronicaurbana.com/). May 2010.
• González, Leyra E. Todos ganan por el MAP. Cultura. El Nuevo Día. May 15, 2010.
• Catalog of the Muestra Nacional de Arte. Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. December 2009 – February 2010. p. 116, 149.
• González, Leyra E. Lista la Muestra Nacional de Arte. Cultura. El Nuevo Día. December 6, 2009. p. 90-91.
• Talent House. http://www.talenthouse.com/kallkrish
• González, Leyra E. Colectiva Virtual. Cultura. El Nuevo Día. June 13, 2009. p. 80-81.
• Rodríguez, Jorge. José Soto en la Gallery nine5. ESCENARIO. El Vocero. June 11, 2009. p. 37.
• Negrón, Ebedet. Art Show Focus on Photographic Trends. Puerto Rico Daily Sun. November 12, 2008. p. 16.
• Escabí, Myrna. Life in the Artsy Lane. Caribbean Business. May 8, 2008. p. 50.
• Catalog of the First Young Art Awards. Exhibition Program, Oriental Group. March, 2008. p. 14.
• Exhibición de fotografías. A tu manera. Primera Hora. March 20, 2008. p. 56.
“Acuario” en el Condado. El Nuevo Día. March 24, 2008. p. 55.
• Martínez, Javier. Acuario de José Soto. Revista Autogiro / El giro del arte actual (http://autogiro.cronicaurbana.com/). March 2008.
• Benet, Wilo. Puerto Rico True Flavors. Tropical Dining Press, Baltimore Maryland. 2007. (All the photography of the book)
Black and White Magazine, Single Image Contest Awards (California, EE.UU.). Vol. 48. February, 2007. p. 83

Activities

• Guest Reviewer, MFA Photography, Parsons The New School for Design, December 2012 – December 2013

New York City

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