Edward James is a fascinating character, out of the ordinary. He was born into British aristocracy where he suggested that he could have been the illegitimate child of King Edward VII, of whom we know the many mistresses but to whom we attribute very little bastards. He had the youth of a typical English noble. Then he let his originality and his taste take over. He was one of the greatest surrealist paintings collectors, and showed himself to be a more than generous patron for Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, and others.
A whim, or rather love, made him abandon the old Europe for Mexico. There, he sunk deep into the rain forest that covers the steep hills of the state of San Luis Potosi.
He arrived in a completely desert place, a little village called Xilitla, surrounded for tens of kilometres by the most exuberant vegetation. He singlehandedly created the most extravagant garden, that is to say immense cement and concrete sculptures, painted in bright colours, the apogee of uselessness; doors that open onto the void, stairs that aimlessly climb towards the sky, terraces that look onto nothing, all of that gratuitous, sumptuous, magnificent. These enormous sculptures that sometimes take the shape of flowers and fruits blend in perfectly with the triumphant vegetation and the flowing water running everywhere.
It remains to this day the most inspiring, the most poetic, the most unexpected place, both due to the site and to Edward James’ creations.
In the neighbouring village of XIlitla, he built a large house filled with the artwork of the greatest Mexican masters of the time. We resided there and I was able to admire the variety and the power of the ghosts that lived there.