Thu | Dec 14, 2017

Leandro Soto – Where spirituality meets art

Published:Sunday | November 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Photo by Amitabh Sharma Vision on a bottle, Leandro Soto recycles everyday material in his works.
Photo by Amitabh Sharma In harmony with nature, Leandro Soto recycles material to use in his works
Photo by Amitabh Sharma Using everyday items to make a statement, a work by Leandro Soto's.
Photo by Amitabh Sharma Delhi chornicles: Soto showcases his visit to Delhi on a sari.
Photo by Amitabh Sharma Faces of India painted on a sari by Leandro Soto.
Photo by Amitabh Sharma In harmony with nature, Leandro Soto recycles material to use in his works.
Photo by Amitabh Sharma Barbados, a depiction of the island by Leandro Soto.
Photo by Amitabh Sharma Leandro Soto's view of Bangalore, India's Silicon Valley.
Photo by Amitabh Sharma Leandro Soto's works are influenced by nature and spirituality, here he shows a painting on a sari of a temple in India.
Photo by Amitabh Sharma Nine yards of a story: Leandro Soto shows a collage of Indian culture painted on a sari.
Photo by Amitabh Sharma Leandro Soto, multidisciplinary visual/installation and performance artist.
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energies, which used to guide me and I started painting," he recalled, sitting cross-legged, as cool breeze kissed the wind chime hanging in the entrance to his home and his thought process that seemed to wander in distance.

His grandfather was a sculptor and one of Soto's first inspirations.

"There were options," he said. "Either to go to dentistry school or arts, and I chose the latter."

In Cuba, Soto was one of the leading figures of 'Volumen Uno', an artistic movement that changed the course of Cuban art in 1980s. He was the first artist in his generation to work with the Afro-Cuban heritage.

Soto spread his artistic footprints and commenced his journey, which took him across the world, and a couple of distinct cultures have been imprinted in his mind. "I lived in Mexico in 1988, there was a lot of Mayan influence in the culture and the arts, which inspired my works," he said.

cross-cultural dialogue

India has been one of major influences, where he travels periodically, and is captivated by the spirituality, culture, people, and the values. "The land (India) is so enriched, it will take several lifetimes to soak even a bit of the spiritual consciousness," he says.

In his current work, Soto brings rich cross-cultural dialogue in contemporary arts cultural heritages and art forms - the outcome of his travels and living in numerous cultures.

"Painting, to me, is the solution to transformation," he says.

Soto, who commenced his artistic journey 32 years ago, recycles everyday material and transforms them into conversation pieces. They often have sacred meaning. Soto has also delved in art form combining music and sound effects using drumming, chanting and the visual arts.

"Painting, drawing, and installation art are integrated in order to create a state of mind where creativity, poetry, and dancing are a channel for emotions," Soto says. He has made Barbados home for the last five years.

Soto says that his creations, whatever the media, have underlying meaning them. The key to comprehend them, he says, lies in the synthesis and integration of values raising personal and cultural awareness.

"I love the Caribbean as it has a rich confluence of multiple cultures," he says, "I search deeply in this influence - European, African, Mediterranean, Indian - they are all here in this region."

Soto has, to date, participated in more than 162 group exhibitions and 91 solo art shows in museums, art galleries, and alternative art spaces and lectured in universities in the United States and across the world.

Capturing cultural confluences, their spiritual manifestations and diversity in human beings, Soto says his travels and work revolve around Jose Marti's quote ... "I come from everywhere and I go everywhere"... this mystical artist's journey continues ... .

amitabh.sharma@hotmail.com