Jorge J. E. Gracia’s book Painting Borges: Philosophy Interpreting Art Interpreting Literature appears to suss out three approaches to one problem, like the blind men trying to describe the elephant. But as any student of Gracia’s mentor, Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges, will tell you, it’s all the same thing—texts on texts on texts—and that an effort to describe experience as a triangle of truth is bound to fail because the effort generates the meaning, not the medium. Asking artists to paint Borges and his problems, his graduate-worthy abstractions and piercing textual puzzles, is to ask them to describe the trunk, not the elephant; it’s a narrow project. Nevertheless, Gracia has enlisted such artists as abstract cartographer Estela Pereda and surrealist painter Nicolás Menza to give it a go. In total, Gracia assembled 16 artists and asked them for their take. The resulting show (and book, and traveling showcase) may not divine any special truth about visual art that isn’t anyway available, but it does serve as a passable survey of contemporary Argentine and Cuban art.
The exhibition is on view Tuesdays to Sundays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to May 26 at American University’s Katzen Arts Center, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Free. (202) 885-3656. american.edu/cas/museum.