November 18, 2017
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Borges: a new look at Argentina's intellectual, literary giant

By Nerea Gonzalez

Buenos Aires, Apr 14 (efe-epa).- Intellectual, philosopher, translator, never-quite-a-Nobel-laureate: many are the labels applicable to Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, a character who, besides escaping the limits of literature, was and is an object of contemplation for artists of other genres, including cartoonists.

It isn't easy to portray the kaleidoscope that was Borges from a single perspective. For that reason, starting this month, almost 31 years after his death, the walls of the most important graphic arts museum in Buenos Aires, the Humor Museum, are full of artworks that take a long look at Borges, from his relation with the Internet to his ties with the leading cultural figures of his time.

"He was a very interesting person for the plastic artist, for the cartoonist...because he was a real character," said Hugo Maradei, director of the Buenos Aires Humor Museum now showing the "Borges Illustrated" exhibition until May 14.

"Apart from his great literary worth, he was a conflictive personality, politically incorrect and who said whatever came to mind, something he was known for in his time," Maradei told EFE.

The exhibition combines both drawings and caricatures of Borges (1899-1986) as a public figure, while a number of illustrations are in one way or another related to his works.

Among the pieces on show are wood engravings by Antonio Berni, a superstar of 20th century Argentine painting, which he created for an edition in Spanish of Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," which was in turn translated by the author of the short story "The Aleph."

"That established a bond between two of our very best artists," Maradei said.

While Borges's writings were not normally illustrated, the exhibition presents the originals of pictures used in books like "Chronicles of Bustos Domecq," which Borges wrote together with his great friend Adolfo Bioy Casares.

Also on hand are works in which the artist Carlos Paez Vilaro created a Uruguayan tenement, which later led Borges to write "Los Morenos" about the black people living there.

But beyond his literary and intellectual life, "Borges Illustrated" seeks to also show Borges as a "character" of Argentine society.

"He remained in the country and fell in more with the rightists," the head of the museum said in comparing the writer with his contemporaries.

That Borges, both controversial and admired, appears on the Humor Museum's walls full of caricatures, both vintage and modern.

The exhibition accents Borges's significance as an artist, thinker and personality, as a one-of-a kind figure that was at the same time a specialist in ancient cultures and ahead of his own time and of ours.

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