TLALAATALA. José Luis Castillejo y la escritura moderna
Henar Rivière, Manuel Olveira
José Luis Castillejo (Seville, 1930 - Houston, 2014) was an experimental writer or, as he preferred to call himself, a modern writer; in any case, a key artist for understanding the complex expanded field now formed by contemporary writing and its connection with other artistic spheres like painting. If there is one word that defines the work of Castillejo that is exceptionality. His art was exceptional, both from the point of view of the objectives he pursued and from that of the means he employed. Exceptional too were his results, and exceptional is the present state of his reception.
His objectives can be summed up in his attempt to comprehend the meaning of reality, and by extension, of freedom. His medium was writing, understood as an independent art capable of transcending reality through its inherent qualities. The result is a highly original oeuvre: Castillejo was the only exponent of his own school that was directly connected with the most cutting-edge developments in art and thought, and played an essential role in the progression of experimental writing in Spain.
As regards its reception, his oeuvre is appreciated in specialised circles and is surrounded by an almost mystical halo, and yet is practically unknown to the general public. Even for those who are familiar with it, most of his production is still a mystery: the number of books he published is minimal compared to those he did not publish, which have hitherto been seen by very few eyes.
This first retrospective dedicated to the artist presents his oeuvre from the early stages of his career as a member of Zaj to his latest years. The objective is double: revising the response to his work and preparing for a historical assessment of it. This assessment is an essential contribution to the history – as yet only partially written – of experimental writing, and of other connected artistic practices in Spain.
The exhibition is accompanied by a book that, under the same title of the show, contains an extensive illustrated catalogue of works and essays by several authors (Ediciones La Bahía, 2018) and by a facsimile of the aryist"s The Book of Letters (2010).