RAFAEL SORIANO: CABEZAS (HEADS)
Rafael Soriano is considered a member of the third Cuban avant-garde; that is, the modern artists that came of age in the 1950s prior to the triumph of the 1959 revolution. Throughout the 1940s Rafael Soriano’s paintings and drawings reflected the influence of surrealism; by the 1950s he developed angular and rectilinear compositions charged with intense, flat colors, evidencing a concrete/geometric aesthetic. Soriano would be a key figure in the group, Pintores Concretos, which introduced and promoted conc rete and geometric abstraction in 1950s Cuba. He would work in this vocabulary until his departure from the island in 1962.
The uprootedness and trauma of exile were profound for the artist; he was not able to paint for a couple of years. From the mid-1960s and into the 1970s, Soriano’s painting went through a transformation. Geometry began to disappear, forms that fused straight lines with softer, organic elements started to emerge. His use of color became darker, richer, applied in a modulated manner, defining the shift from darkness to light. By the middle of the 1970s, Soriano’s painting had achieved its mature vocabulary of biomorphic, luminous shapes existing in an atmosphere of mystery which evoked other worldly concerns.
Within his pictorial production, going back to the late 1960s through the 1990s, Soriano painted a series of heads. These are his most figurative works. This exhibit consists of twenty one paintings whose subjects’ are heads. Starting from the earliest examples on view in the East Gallery, Soriano is working through his forms and colors in pursuit of a personal visual language. The head, with its obvious representation of humanity, is the best theme for this exploration. After his exile and from the 1970s on, this aspect of his work became the central root for the development of his pictorial vision. These pictures express deep existential concerns regarding freedom, identity, and the desire to convey a sense of the real that goes beyond the material. They are, to paraphrase St. Augustine, “mirrors of the soul,” suggesting struggle, rescue and salvation, and the individual’s perpetual need for both identity and freedom.
The American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora is a culturally-specific museum of memory, dedicated to showcasing and documenting the history, culture, and contributions of the Cuban exile community through exhibitions and programming in the arts and the humanities.
American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora’s mission is to tell the story of the Cuban Diaspora, through the eyes of its greatest artists, thinkers, and creators. These artists, born outside or exiled from Cuba, have emerged in distant landscapes, and become some of the most important artists of our time. It is located in the heart of Miami, minutes from Little Havana, and aims to give this story a home away from homeland.