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Less Than a Month Left to See Rafael Soriano: The Artist as a Mystic

Florida International University Hosts the Homecoming of the Century.

The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, the Smithsonian Affiliate in Miami, announces the opening of Rafael Soriano: The Artist as Mystic which is running now until January 28th, 2018. This unprecedented retrospective of the Cuban Master Rafael Soriano featuring more than ninety of his paintings and drawings.

This national tour culminates in the artist’s hometown of Miami, where he created some of his most acclaimed works after seeking exile in the U.S. and features never-before-seen ephemera from the late artist’s studio that is still lovingly preserved in Miami after his recent passing in 2015.

The Artist as Mystic focuses on the multiple influences that nurtured and inspired him, or as Soriano once rhapsodized, energies where “the intimate and the cosmic converge.” Curated by Elizabeth Thompson Goizueta, this exhibition was originally organized by the McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, in conjunction with the Rafael Soriano Foundation.

The exhibition also traveled to the Long Beach Museum of Art prior to the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU. The artist’s full trajectory is explored, spanning three distinct periods: his early Cuban geometric abstract style, his transitional period in the 1960’s and 1970’s reminiscent of surrealist biomorphism, and closing with the luminous and mystical imagery of his mature period. His work resonated with his contemporaries Wifredo Lam, Roberto Matta and Rufino Tamayo.

Soriano was born in the province of Matanzas, Cuba in 1920. He fled the Cuban revolution in 1962, emigrating to the U.S. where his work dramatically evolved and received even wider international acclaim. His earlier works (from the 1940s and 1950s) in this retrospective were painted in Cuba, and are internationally renowned as some of the world’s most prominent examples of Cuban geometric abstraction, with bold colors and striking geometric planes.

“I do not pretend to transmit a message of reality: I am moved by the longing to travel through my paintings in a dimension of spirit where the intimate and the cosmic converge.” – Rafael Soriano

The paintings from Soriano’s transitional period (1960s and 1970s) that are also featured in this retrospective show the emotional hardships of fleeing his native country. When Soriano exiled to Miami with his family in the early 1960s, he originally intended to be able to return to Cuba. The stark realization that he could never return was too much for Soriano, and this emotional strain stopped him from painting for two years. Finally, in 1964, Soriano was able to create again after what he referred to as a spiritual re-awakening which led to his next phase, known for his elements of surrealist biomorphism.

The final section of the exhibition, his mature period, reveals the full evolution of the artist’s journey (1980s and 1990s). In these paintings, organic biomorphic images dominate with their luminosity and permutations of color portraying Soriano’s spirituality and his mystical visions of the universe and other realms.


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    Less Than a Month Le…

    by Matt Caskey Time to read this article: 7 min
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