Organic forms swirl and fuse across Miquel Barceló Bodegón avec protozoaires et trous noirs (Still life with Protozoa and Black Holes). Painted in 2003, the monumental panorama shows the world at its most elemental and incomprehensible, as epic as the night sky, as essential as a cell. Against a radically reductive palette, spikey black forms emerge in high relief. When exhibited at the Musée du Louvre, Paris, in 2004, curators called Bodegón avec protozoaires et trous noirs a ‘reinvention of abstraction’ (M. Bernadac and M. Sahut, ‘Le Tableau du mois no. 111’, Musée du Louvre, Paris 2004). Part of a series of works that Barceló began in Mallorca in 2002, the painting is an abstracted still life that reflects the artist’s fascination with the ancient, almost primordial forms, from the cave paintings of Lascaux and Altamira to undersea rocks and crustaceans. For Barceló, still life is a central genre, for which he draws on the Spanish tradition of the bodegón. Unlike their Northern European counterparts, who painted lavish banquets overflowing with fish and fowl, historically, Spanish artists instead evoked a humble austerity in their representations of common objects. Certainly, a sense of modesty pervades Bodegón avec protozoaires et trous noirs, a work which summons the origin of life through single-celled protozoa. With its stirring shadows and subtly variegated tones, Bodegón avec protozoaires et trous noirs possesses a dream-like quality which reveals the quiet stillness of a vast expanse. In the rich accruals of its surface created through an almost geographical layering of paint, the painting plays witness to its own evolution, a history in time.