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This text by critic Juan Calzadilla is the introduction to the catalogue for Magia de un realismo crítico, an exhibition of work by Jacobo Borges organized by the Galería de Arte Nacional in 1976. Calzadilla asserts that, of all Venezuelan artists, Borges is the one whose work has developed in the most coherent fashion due to the sense of reality that emerges from the relationship between individual works; indeed, even though each of his pieces is autonomous, his art as a whole forms a sort of “chronicle.” That formal nexus is as important as the nexus between image and message in the field of ideas. Calzadilla credits Borges with using an efficacious personal language in intrinsically valid images with a critical consciousness.


Juan Calzadilla (b. 1931) wrote this introduction to the Venezuelan version of the show Jacobo Borges: Magia de un realismo crítico, organized by the Galería de Arte Nacional (GAN) in Caracas in 1976 at the initiative of the Museo de Arte Moderno de México (Chapultepec). The Venezuelan version of the show, which was held at the Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas in November and December 1976, included new works not on exhibit in Mexico. This was the first exhibition in Venezuela of a significant selection of Borges’s painting from different periods. The fact that painter Alejandro Otero was the engine behind Jacobo Borges en México—an exhibition of the work of a Venezuelan painter associated with the Nueva Figuración movement—indicates that, by the mid-seventies, the antagonism between abstraction and figuration had been overcome.


A Venezuelan critic, draftsman, and poet, Calzadilla had written a text for an earlier show of Borges’s work (Las Jugadoras, 1965) in which he placed emphasis on the painter’s novel treatment of reality. In this brief essay written over ten years later, Calzadilla assesses how Borges’s work evolved; he praises its coherence on both formal and ideological levels. Calzadilla asserts that drawing is central to the development of Borges’s painting. Calzadilla’s text is brief and his approach far-reaching; he identifies decisive characteristics that bind together Borges’s works from different periods. Calzadilla describes the artist’s work as a “painful chronicle” of reality. He points out that the “metaphysical framework” in which Borges situates his criticism is based on the use of stereotypes, the flow of time, and the tie between image, message, and critical consciousness.


[For other texts on Jacobo Borges’s work, see in the ICAA digital archive Donald Kuspit’s “Jacobo Borges’s creation of potential space / Jacobo Borges e la creazione dello spazio potenziale” (doc. no. 1060608); Perán Erminy’s “Una exposición de obras de Jacobo Borges” (doc. no. 1060424); Inocente Palacios’s “Jacobo Borges” (doc. no. 1060361); Roberto Guevara’s untitled text “[Un día el poeta sentó la belleza en sus rodillas…]” (doc. no. 1060477); historian Berta Taracena’s “Jacobo Borges en México” (doc. no. 1063795); Elizabeth Pérez Luna’s review “Jacobo Borges. La pasión de la identidad” (doc. no. 1063714); the interview by Lenelina Delgado entitled “Somos una ficción” (doc. no. 1063831); the one by Armando J. Florez “El artista debe superar las limitaciones de las ideologías. Jacobo Borges en Nueva York” (doc. no. 1065435); and José Luis Colin’s entitled “Entre la acción colectiva y la búsqueda individual: Jacobo Borges” (doc. no. 1063769). For another text by Juan Calzadilla on Borges, see (untitled) “[Hasta ahora lo que entre nosotros se había llamado…]” (doc. no. 1060684)].

Josefina Manrique
Fundación Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
Reproduced with permission of Juan Calzadilla, Caracas, Venezuela
CINAP. Centro de Informacion Nacional de Artes Plásticas. Galería de Arte Nacional, Plaza Los Museos, Los Caobos, Caracas.