For him, literature was a matter of heart rather than an inner call. David Foenkinos found his vocation for the written word when a disease left him on the edge of life. «Sometimes you have to expose yourself to death to return to life». Then he had not written "The delicacy", one of those unforeseen "best sellers" that catapult the name to the pinnacle of success. He was just a boy allergic to reading, trying to overcome a disease that had erased from his immediate perspective the line of the future. «All my books talk about the challenge to life. I have realized that it is a way to exalt her. People who have been seriously ill know what I'm talking about. "
Perhaps from that convalescence comes the current enthusiasm of David Foenkinos for the stimuli that come his way, because it is a convincing demonstration of those writers who, in the one to you, break the stereotypes that accompany his name. In the short distance, he is someone detached from impostations and false stretches, who likes to bargain in conversation with reflections and occurrences, which does not allow seriousness to detract one iota of his humor or that jokes banalize the conversation. During a walk through the rooms of the Thyssen Museum, Foenkinos is repairing the masters who brought a new light to the painting of the first half of the 20th century and commenting, at the same time, on his latest novel, "Hacia la belleza" (Alfaguara) , the story of Antoine Duras, a professor at the School of Fine Arts in Lyon who leaves his job to accept another as a ward guard at the Musée d'Orsay. «I have realized that it is one of the most personal works I have written. At 18, I got sick. Books and art helped me. It is a very personal point of view: a man who goes to a museum to appease his pain. Art is a refuge. Beauty can be an escape point to find a form of comfort against heartbreak. In front of a painting one is never judged»
And that painting is a portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne made by her partner, Modigliani. She loved the artist and when he died she decided to commit suicide despite being pregnant. A dramatic event that left behind a beautiful gesture: before killing herself, she left on the body of the painter a lock of her hair.
The protagonist of this book will take the path of beauty to overcome the disconsolation of a love break and this canvas will help him overcome the melancholy of separation. At the moment, as Foenkinos confesses, he has managed to make the Musée d'Orsay fashionable and that many people go there looking for echoes of his novel, although, as he recalls, the pinacoteca has never dedicated a retrospective to this master. «The face of this work traverses eternity with its melancholy and sensual emotion. The good thing about art is that it does not analyze, it only transcends. "
Foenkinos shows no sympathy for mass tourism that turns culture into a fairground attraction and reduces beauty to a mere object of consumption. "I am against those people who take a picture before looking at the picture. In fact, if there are many people, I prefer not to go to a museum. I like, anyway, that the agent comes to them to walk. It is something almost religious. And, we must also point out, it's real, not a virtual thing. I think there is a need to go back to the concrete. I am convinced that the world will change, it will disconnect from the virtual, it will return to more real things. And that's great. "
The writer describes the approach of his plots as an investigation of the motivations and causes that move his characters. "Writing is like a false clue. What I was interested in knowing is why this man had ended up there. He decides to leave everything and accept a job as a janitor when he reaches the summit of knowledge. In the end, this text is an analysis of the concept of resurrection, of returning to life. Every time there is a lack of love, we have to go through the exit box again, "he says.
When asked about the recipe for the art of love, he laughs, "if he knew it," he affirms, but later, Foenkinos is emboldened and gives a definition: "For me it is putting the other before you and feeling that happiness the other is more important than ours. I have not fallen in love often, but I think that life is more important than art. Art is an adultery, a double life and makes existence more dense. I write at all times, I make movies. My brain does not rest. It is flooded with stories. Everything revolves around work, because, it is also true, I am immersed in an endless search ».