In the eighties Tàpies made a decisive return to the path of painting, and his compositions no longer had the rigid orthogonal layout of some of his earlier works: silent, dramatic spaces began to take shape in structures treated with great freedom. In those empty atmospheres, with their disturbing movement and spectral lights, enigmatic presences with a certain figurative quality drawn from gesture and material emerge. In the work Negre, blanc i vermell the dreamlike magic of the Dau al Set period is stripped of details on expressionist surfaces; the material is furrowed by subtle incisions, where a series of motifs with a complex structure of meaning are outlined. They are symbols with strong metaphorical overtones, forms that respond to a gesture that springs from the harshest void or a mental space in which material is immersed in the intrinsic quality of its own essence. In his work we recurrently find forms with multiple meanings: crosses, letters, words, triangles, doors, tables, chairs, eyeglasses, beds, footprints, human limbs—images of objects and symbols or images of objects as symbols that evoke and suggest the theme of death, illness and sex, or symbolise a denunciation of political oppression. The relations established with the artist’s biography by those forms, with their ancestral, everyday quality, are fundamental to unravelling the enigma.