Souto’s ‘Diaspora II’ opens Oct. 22 at Kiechel Fine Art

Francisco Souto, “Exhausted,” 2021, colored pencil on paper, 11” x 11”.
Francisco Souto, “Exhausted,” 2021, colored pencil on paper, 11” x 11”.

Souto’s ‘Diaspora II’ opens Oct. 22 at Kiechel Fine Art

calendar icon14 Oct 2021    

Lincoln, Neb.--School of Art, Art History & Design Director Francisco Souto’s newest exhibition, “Diaspora II,” opens Friday, Oct. 22 at the Kiechel Fine Art Gallery in Lincoln.

The exhibition runs Oct. 22 through Dec. 3 at the gallery, located at 1208 O St. An opening reception will be held Friday, Oct. 22 from 5-8 p.m. with an artist talk at 6:30 p.m.

The work in this exhibition continues Souto’s response to the reality affecting his native land of Venezuela. It follows his first “Diàspora” exhibition in 2019. “Diaspora” means a dispersion of people from their original homeland. In that exhibition, the drawings were visual testimonies of the social, economic and political deterioration that is eroding Venezuela.

This current exhibition takes a broader view.

“That exhibition was directed toward the Venezuelan diàspora, and that was two years ago,” Souto said. “And then obviously it seems like things are spreading to all different parts of the world. I think I need to revisit this idea, but not to localize it to South America and Venezuela, but more worldwide. Now diaspora is affecting anyone in the world. Before, I was focused on my people, but now it is everybody’s people.”

In his artist statement, he writes, “These pieces were slowly conceived as a direct response to current events and far removed from the autobiographical, but rather connected to a political immediacy. They are an attempt to offer a collective experience of struggle and perseverance. They address the shared vision of humanity through their meticulous execution and their material vocabulary.”

In his work, Souto pays careful attention to aesthetics.

“I want to create beautifully crafted objects because, in an implied way, they become the point of entry for the viewer and the platform to start to have a conversation,” he said. “Even though these people are struggling through the current political situations, their vibrant spirit is still there. The vibrancy of the color reflects that. The human spirit hasn’t been broken quite yet. These pieces reflect the human condition, and that’s very important for me.”

The exhibition will include 23 new works by Souto.

“All of them were done over a year,” Souto said. “Making a beautiful object requires a lot of patience, a lot of time and dedication to it.”

He hopes viewers take two things from the exhibition.

“I do think people still believe in beautiful objects and beautiful things. There is a level of craftsmanship to the work that allows the object to have an intrinsic power because it’s so well constructed,” he said. “And that sets the tone of the conversation with the viewer. Once you get there, I want people to really pay attention to what is happening around them. It’s about humanity. It’s not just about your particular situation. To me, if I can create a balance between those two, I think I’m pretty happy with the conversation because these are heartfelt sentiments.”

Souto was born in Venezuela and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Herron School of Art, and his Master of Fine Arts degree from The Ohio State University.

He has participated in a wide range of national and international exhibitions, and his accolades include more than 45 national and international awards and honors. He was one of 60 artists nationwide selected for the “State of the Art 2020” exhibition at the Momentary and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas. 

In 2019, he received the Lorenzo il Magnifico Award for works on paper at the XIIth edition of the Florence Biennale in Italy, for his work, “Little Bird (Pajarito).”

Souto began his career in printmaking and then switched to drawing following an injury. His work in both mediums is intricate and detail-oriented.

He became the Director of the School of Art, Art History & Design at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 2017. He joined the Nebraska faculty in 2004.