"Bodegon", c.1983-1984

Miquel Barceló (b. 1947)


100.000 - 150.000


7 November 2019


Mixed media on canvas

90x112 cm


Modern and Contemporary Art

Additional Information

With certificate of authenticity from Bruno Bischofberger AG Gallery, Switzerland

Bodegón belongs to a series of medium-sized paintings representing kitchens made by Miquel Barceló between 1983 and 1984. This painting was acquired at ARCO in 1985 by a Portuguese collector and since then has always remained in private collections. Some of these ‘kitchens’ were painted in Portugal in the summer of 1984, during the four months that Barceló spent in Vila Nova de Milfontes, in the south of the country, with his friend and designer Javier Mariscal.
Their stay in Portugal was the subject of a documentary by Paloma Chamorro on her television program La Edad de Oro. Here is shown the artist producing, on the beach of Vila Nova de Milfontes, large seascapes with boats and shipwrecks, incorporating algae and sand as pictorial materials. It is during this period that Barceló also paints some smaller still lifes in the series from which we show here. Shortly after, these small 'kitchens' evolved to larger size works such as Fum de Cuina [Kitchen Smoke] (1984) or La Gran Cena Española [The Great Spanish Dinner] (1985). The later was the first work by Miquel Barceló to be acquired by Reina Sofía Museum, in Madrid.
All paintings of the kitchen series were painted during the time the artist was establishing himself in the international scene. Jean-Louis Froment organized Barceló's first institutional exhibition at CAPC Musée d´Art Contemporain, in Bordeaux, opened in May 1985, after showed at Velázquez Palace, in Madrid, and later, in 1986, at the Institute of Contemporary Art, in Boston. The touring exhibition featured a wide range of paintings by Barceló from 1983 to 1985, a period in which the artist is shown in important private galleries in Naples, Paris, Madrid, Nagoya or Cologne. This is the time his work is related to neo-expressionism, being described as a nomadic and wild painting.
In 1984, Barceló had already painted soup dishes within this theme, in addition to other paintings such as La Mirada Nutritiva [The Nutritional Look] (1984) presented at the Bordeaux exhibition, in which the artist represents himself looking at a surface that can be either a table or a canvas full of food.
In an interview for the catalogue of this exhibition, Barceló mentioned that still lifes are a way of establishing a direct relationship with the physical aspects of painting as if they were tables for experiments. The artist also mentions that still lifes allows him to recreate an allegorical structure, based on the inexorable passage of time, inspired by the Italian baroque painting. Paintings as the one shown here are monochrome, in grey or earth tones, which is a key feature of this series of kitchens.
In the catalogue of the Bordeaux exhibition, Barceló says that these works represent his own experiences, trying to find an internal as well as visual correspondence between the pictorial materials, which include leftovers, and the themes represented. More than image and material, Barceló seeks for coincidences between opposites, such as solid and liquid, soft and hard, opaque and transparent. Here emerges what will be a recurring theme on his work: the metamorphosis of matter, always in constant transformation.
In Bodegón, we see a steak being cooked in a frying pan from which smoke rises diagonally to the left and in the opposite direction, the frying pan's handle creates a diagonal to the right, giving great dynamism to the painting. Although smoke is an image of transparency, its effect is achieved through glazes and thick layers of paint matter. The same effect is achieved by the stove fire under the frying pan through incisions in the paint itself. Similarly, the artist represents a cruet, a salt shaker and what should be a small container, all converted in transparent images, in the lower right corner of the painting.
This work reflects on the relationship between matter, light and image and how the painting is sustained under this relationship, going far beyond its first ironic appearance. Food-related paintings also become a metaphor for something necessary for life. After these ‘kitchens’ series, Barceló will paint a series of Chinese restaurants, including works as Le Chien Chinois [The Chinese Dog] or Restaurant Chinois avec Grenouilles [The Chinese Restaurant with Frogs], both from 1985.

Enrique Juncosa
Curator of the retrospective exhibition Miquel Barceló at the Reina Sofía Museum, in Madrid

Closed Auction