Wellesley College art professor discusses new Blanton exhibit

Chris Mendez

A guest lecturer spoke about French painter Paul Cezanne’s influence on the work of Latin American artists Diego Rivera and Jesús Soto at the Blanton Museum of Art on Wednesday.

James Oles, a Latin American art professor at Wellesley College, specializes in modern Mexican art and architecture.

Oles presented the works of Cezanne and spoke about the natural images in the paintings. He also discussed the different landscapes used in Cezanne’s works and emphasized the importance of brushwork.

Oles pointed out the same elements in Mexican painter Rivera’s work. According to Oles, Rivera started as a cubist artist in 1914 and then shifted to a modernist style after observing the works of Cezanne. 

According to Oles, Rivera emulated Cezanne’s landscapes in his own works and portraits but incorporated his own style with more space and separation in his images.

Other aspects of Rivera’s art that Oles talked about included his geometric patterns and depiction of working class people.

Oles also discussed Venezuelan artist Jesús Soto, whose major works appeared in the 1960s. He is most notably recognized for penetrable sculptures, which consist of dangling tubes through which people can walk. 

“[Cezanne] wanted to make visible the world that touches us,” Oles said.

Oles also showed Soto’s optical wall works, which modeled the idea of Cezanne’s by creating “vibration” through the use of diagonals. In contrast to Rivera’s art, Oles pointed out that Soto made his paintings more three-dimensional. Oles concluded by saying that both artists had their own interpretations of Cezanne’s art.

Oles said that other Mexican abstract artists, in addition to Rivera and Soto, have been influenced by Cezanne’s work. Oles also talked about the importance of students getting a hands-on experience of art. 

Mathematics sophomore Jacob Caudell said he is interested in the underlying structure of realities.

“I’m interested in how art develops over time,” Caudell said. “They took the same body of work and did very different things with it. After this presentation, I’m understanding more about how artists respond to the art that has come before them.”

Oles will be giving another talk at the Art Building and Museum on Thursday at 7 p.m.