That’s Edward James, in a portrait by famous surrealist painter René Magritte. Mr James was something of a surrealist himself… poetry at first, then art collecting and finally fantastical architecture in the bejungled hills of Mexico.
James was a Brit born in 1907. He inherited enough money to pursue his artistic interests early in life, then built his wealth further as a coffee plantation owner. In Xilitla, he had enough cash, land and cheap labour to create a quirky 87 acre concrete garden complex.
Friends Cheryl and Lloyd Cooke just sent photos of their visit to Las Pozas, Xilitla.
Top left: Cheryl with one of the picturesque waterfalls that must have drawn Edward James in the first place. Top right: Stairway to nowhere (or Heaven, if you are so inclined, says Lloyd.) Bottom left: One of 5 Jesuit-built missions in the vicinity. Bottom left: Detail of concrete work at Las Pozas
Some 200 large creations, part sculpture, part architecture, part maze, were completed before James’ death in 1984. His efforts remind me of the obsessive productions of Spain’s eccentric Antoni Gaudí and Los Angeles’ Simon Rodia.
Here’s a YouTube view…