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IVAM Presents Ramón de Soto Exhibition at the Cristo de Tomar Convent
Ramón de Soto, Altar de Thánatos I y II, 1987-88. Photo: Courtesy IVAM.

VALENCIA.- IVAM has presented at the Cristo de Tomar Convent (Portugal) the exhibition “Reflections on Silence” by sculptor Ramón de Soto which will remain on view through September 10. The exhibition is a result of the collaborative agreement made between IVAM and the Instituto de Gestión del Patrimonio Arquitectónico y Arqueológico (IGESPAR) in Portugal.

The show, curated by Director of IVAM, Consuelo Ciscar, and art critic, Luisa Soares de Oliveira, gathers 27 works of art (14 sculptures and 13 drawings) which the artist donated to IVAM. The opening was attended by Elísio Summaville, president of IGESPAR and by Iría Esteves Caetano, director of the Convento del Cristo, among others.

At the exhibition inauguration, Ramón de Soto has made a reference to his creative process saying, “What I do in the last extreme is my own existence so therefore, I search for a sense of my own existence through what I construct”.

The sculptor Ramón de Soto y Arándiga (Valencia, 1942) began his art studies at the Escuela de Artes y Oficios in Valencia. His masters were Hervás and Benjamín Suria and he worked in the studio of the sculptor Francisco Hernandis. Later the artist studied sculpture at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes de San Carlos in Valencia, where he discovered contemporary art through Father Alfonso Roig, and the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. In 1963, he created the group called Integración de las Artes at Galería Nebli in Madrid with Ignacio Gómez de Liaño and Juan José Gómez Molina, and the group brought out the magazine Integración de las Artes. During this period, influenced by the artist Julio Plaza, he began to make his first experiments in Constructivism, Pop art and kinetic art. He also discovered concrete poetry.

In 1965 he joined the association Arte Actual, which sought to create a Mediterranean culture and art. In 1968 he became a member of the group known as Antes del Arte, with Eusebio Sempere, Francisco Sobrino, José Mª Yturralde, Jorge Teixidor and Joaquín Michavila, and the composer Tomás Marco, sponsored by the art theoretician Vicente Aguilera Cerni. Knowledge of Gestalt and the Psychology of Perception and the Centro de Cálculo of the Universidad Complutense in Madrid opened up new horizons for him. After finishing his studies he started to teach at the Escuela Superior de Arquitectura in Valencia and later at the Escuela Superior de Arquitectura in Madrid, where he collaborated with the architect Antonio Fernández Alba.

His interest in new materials led him to experiment with acrylic, with which he made his first pieces in Antes del Arte. Ramón de Soto also began to learn to work with iron in the workshop of the Aznar brothers, in Valencia.

He was given private classes in mathematics and symbolic logic by José Luis Santos Lucas, a physics and mathematics lecturer at the Universidad Politécnica. In 1973 he created the Grupo Bulto with other antifascist Valencians; the aim of this group was to bring art to small towns and increase people’s social and democratic awareness. His work as a sculptor concentrated on modelling and producing sculpture of deep political and social engagement.

In 1975, as a result of his antifascist militancy, he was obliged to seek exile in Italy, where he met the critic Rafaelle Degrada. When democratic life began to take force in Spain, he embarked upon a period of research into the conceptions of the Greco-Roman world, the Judaeo-Christian civilisation and Zen philosophy, and he later started to explore the concepts of chaos, order and mystery (Apollo-Dionysus-Hermes), and how they are reflected in different systems of proportion used in the field of art, from the Number of Gold (1618) to the Number of Silence (1327), proportions he uses to make his sculptures and his installations.

Ramón de Soto has an anthropological conception of the artwork as an instrument that can be used to satisfy needs. Of all the functions of art, the ones that interest him the most are those that see art as a means to give shape to the knowledge of reality and the one that, in the process of transforming matter, transforms the awareness and perception of the artist’s reality, which is reflected in his series about Eros and Thanatos, his works on Silence (Paisajes, Territorios, Arquitecturas), Paisajes de la Memoria (Landscapes of Memory) and Paisajes del Yo (Landscapes of the Ego).

When the old fine arts school was turned into a university faculty attached to the
Universidad Politécnica in Valencia, he began to lecture there, and when he was
appointed Vice-Dean he created the Sculpture Department, which he directed as
professor of that discipline.

He then set up the Fine Arts Faculty at the Universidad Miguel Hernández in Altea,
where he was appointed Dean. During the time that Ramón de Soto was President of the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Valencia, he opened up the institution to young artists and set up an exhibition policy that involved retrieving artists who had fallen into oblivion, such as Ricardo Boix and others.

He is Vice-President of the Culture Department of the Generalidad Valenciana and has been awarded the Highest Distinction of the Generalitat Valenciana. He has taught courses, delivered seminars and directed workshops at different universities in Spain and abroad, such as the Plastic Arts Faculty in Havana, Cuba, Musashino Art University in Tokyo, Saga Art College in Kyoto and Toyama, both in Japan.

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