When first asked the question, "Is Art a Universal Language?", my first initial response is to say yes because art is a part of all cultures. However, because art is so individualistic it is more a private language of the person. Art is the result of the collective make up of an individual which can be influenced by the particular culture they are a part of. I feel like there are definitely varying degrees of influence the person's culture will have on their art. Even so, the person's interpretation of the universe and the relationship they have with it will make their art totally unique.
Our own personal lense and cultural view point could possibly affect our capacity to appreciate another culture's art. To me, it depends on how open or expansive an individual is. If someone can immerse themselves in the culture then they can better appreciate and live the experience of the art more fully. If one is ethnocentric it could impede their ability to feel and integrate themselves with the artist's experience. Familiarity with the artist's culture definitely would make the appreciation of the art more full.
I am not sure if translation is necessary because to me it boils down to allowing one to feel the art more than think about what the artist is trying to convey. An awareness of how something affects you is to me the most interesting part of the process. Having a greater universal awareness of the fact that we are all beings having a human experience is an awesome perspective to have when reflecting on art. Aside from the obvious physical stuff, the most globally shared of human experiences are emotions: joy, sorrow, pain, heartache, fear, frustration, hope, love, lust, etc. etc. I am learning to look at many aspects of art whether its physical, mental, or spiritual depiction of what the artist sees.