Oscar Ledesma

Artist & Gallerist & Curator

Retreat – Les ecrivains maudits

Just like writing, painting usually starts out as an introspective process.

Jorge Luis Borges once said that he was much prouder of all the books he had read than of those he wrote himself. A quote which to me shows a kind of false modesty. But I recognize myself in this quote: I, too, am very proud of all the books I have read throughout the years. These images are thus meant as a hommage to authors, who, as I discovered them at various points in my life, represent important landmarks in my personal story. The series is conceived as a  work in progress, since my personal list of authors with that quality is quite long: Baudelaire, Papini, Nietzsche, Fuentes, Faulkner, Sontag, etc.

When I read Emil Cioran for the first time, I was fascinated by his aphorisms and how they are able to recreate nothingness and hopeless situations with an immense power. For me, Cioran will always stand for a mixture between Nietzschean aphorisms and Japanese haiku poetry: highly sophisticated, perfect pearls of truth.

Charles Bukowski is the direct opposite to this kind of literature. Using direct, violent words, he describes the pitilessness of life, our tough reality. Sometimes, he might seem a little too bold and simple, but he is always poetic. He is kind of a dirty John Fante combined with an alcoholic Knut Hamsun.

Henry Miller and Samuel Beckett, on the other hand, taught that in literature (and thus art), one is not only able to free oneself from social conventions, but also from the seemingly unshakable laws of grammar. Tropic of Cancer and Molloy are the most striking examples of this type of literature.

But my personal favorite is still Roberto Bolaño. I think he is and will be the best writer of our generation, of this century. Within a very small range of published works, he managed to present to us and combine an all-encompassing bildungsroman (a la Thomas Mann‘s Zauberberg), new experimental forms (a la Ulysses by James Joyce) and pointless violence (as in Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald), Bolaño is our modern Virgil, a literary tutor and companion during our earthly journey.