Mapping Leandro Soto

/ 1 March, 2016

You returned more vast, more

precarious,

to your smoke premises

Amando Fernándezi

(…) It is within the sensitivity, starting from a compelling need to reach knowledge and intending to overcome the narrow limits of individuality that the life and work of Cuban artist Leandro Soto settled down and should be understood. (…) Leandro was an indispensable, formally cleansing, key in what should be a yearned for generational expression. The migratory crisis lead by Cuban artists and intellectuals at the end of the following decade is one of the gloomiest phenomenons, in every sense, that this last half century has lived. However, something important emerged from this event. Liberated from the condition of immobility that the insular context imposed during those years, several of these artists used the autonomy of action that had been reached to make a real, deep contact with a continental spirituality to which they felt ancestrally linked and with which they had dreamed for a long time. Works like those of José Bedia, Juan Francisco Elso and Leandro Soto were indelibly marked by this confrontation of cultures.

In a strict sense, the displacement conflict was not, in Soto’s case, the cause but merely a timely facilitator of a task that was already unresolved in his life. Y hacia todas partes voy (And I Go Everywhere), exhibited in Havana in 2015, does not offer us “pieces” that the artist has hung on the wall to arrange an art exhibition in its most frivolous sense but, on the contrary: he tries to display before our eyes a vast travel diary, a summary of findings, which Soto offers us, as a legacy. The exhibition in La Acacia, binnacle of this crossing of almost thirty years exploring multiple destinations, is also the documentation of a great performance, from which Soto confesses to have assumed his life.

Who is he? And where does this man located between Barbados, the United States and India, who makes from life an eternal trip and of the trip a research which would later be assumed as a plastic action, belongs? Leandro Soto still pursues a “philosophical answer to his (own) inner question”. His logic is anchored in what is universal, but he inevitably returns to Cuba because he considers that “the condition of having been born in Cienfuegos, near the sea, is never lost” and states he is tied to Marti’s ideology from the very title of the exhibition and throughout it all…

i Fragment of a poem by Cuban writer Amando Fernández (1949-1994), quoted by Soto in the exhibition Y hacia todas partes voy (And I Go Everywhere), Galería Acacia, Havana, 2015.

Beatriz Gago

Beatriz Gago

She is graduated with a Degree in Science from Havana University. She has devoted the last fifteen years to an approach to contemporary Cuban art as a researcher, art critic and Independent curator. For almost a decade, she has been working for Archivo Veigas, Arte Cubano (Havana) and Ediciones Vanguardia Cubana (Madrid).

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