William Burroughs 100, Riflemaker Gallery, London
"It was after the American Beat writer William Burroughs shot his common-law wife Joan Vollmer in the head by accident during a game of William Tell in Mexico City in 1951, rendering her two young children motherless, that his creativity achieved new power."
He said: “I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan’s death... I live with the constant threat of possession, and a constant need to escape from possession, from control. So the death of Joan brought me in contact with the invader, the Ugly Spirit, and manoeuvred me into a lifelong struggle, in which I have had no choice except to write my way out.”
"Burroughs was never punished for the crime and his enduring remorse is documented by Barry Miles in a biography that was recently published to celebrate the centenary of his birth. Most famous for novels that fizz and spit at you – particularly Naked Lunch (1959) with its “junk-sick morning” – and for being part of a triumvirate with Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, Burroughs was also a visual artist. Sometimes he would make art with his eyes closed, literally, in order to explore his own psyche rather than to be shown to the public. The visitor to this exhibition should perhaps bear that in mind."
"The power of these artworks lies in their entwinement with his biography. They are vitalistic outbursts, wilfully lethal, boyishly destructive. There is a long history of combining the forces of Eros and Thanatos, life and death, in transgressive art. They bring to mind a toddler torturing insects."
Also see "Searching for Guns, Hidden Signs, and Lemurs in the Art of William S. Burroughs" by Mark Sheerin