'What interests me in still life is to work with it as organic material, to feel it as pure material. I want to try different renderings to get to the saturation of baroque still lifes. Sometimes I use the elements as a pretext to create a kind of dance inside the picture; in other words, the still life is just an excuse." (Conversation with Barceló in 1995, quoted in Miguel Barcelo 1987-1997, Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, April-June 1998, p.16).
Working in Paris in 1985, Barceló found inspiration in the 'Bodegones' or still life genre in the tradition of Spanish painters such as Velázquez and Sanches Cotán who portrayed archetypal scenes of kitchen and cellar interiors. Cuisine avec Cafetiere, one of the major works from Barceló's series of large-scale canvases depicting Catalan kitchens shows Barceló "consuming" this important theme, learning the "recipes" of the old masters, himself becoming a "chef" of painting. In Cuisine avec Cafetiere, the carefully depicted objects and distorted perspective stimulate a perception of the meal as something that exists as both a representation and at the same time as a sensual reality. Barceló achieves this sense through his physical involvement with the subject. The following description of his approach to the painting of food explains the nature of his close involvement with his subject matter.
"Tomorrow morning at 9.00 a.m. we will go to the market to find aubergines and peppers, courgettes and pumpkins... I need to have them near me, to stick my nose, my hands into them, to spread the paint with melon slices when I am painting melons, mixing their juices with the paint". (Artist's Note-book 'Paris VI94', quoted op.cit, p.196)
Likewise in Cuisine avec Cafetiere the environment of the kitchen is conveyed in such a way that one can almost feel the heat of the steam from the cooking food. Everything depicted in the painting has been rendered so intensely and with such a strong materiality that the texture of the work dominates the subject matter and collectively the still life seems more real than the objects inspiring it. Barceló achieves this through his remarkable exaltation of pure material. For him, the material is food, and food, but another material. Through his accumulation of rich paint he explores all that the subject of the Bodegones and the sensuality of his medium evoke. "My painting", he has said, "generates ideas, and then it sweeps them aside and they settle around the canvas, on the floor, with the roaches and the orange rinds." (op.cit, p.27).
see separate catalogue