Starting in 1936, when the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War forced her to leave Madrid and seek refuge in Argentina, Maruja Mallo’s artistic output moved away from the Surrealist path she shared with her friend Salvador Dalí and closer to the Latin American currents of Magical Realism. Even in its title, the painting series Naturaleza viva (1942) breaks with the darker moods normally associated with the still life genre, adopting bold colours, mesmerising patterns, and entrancing shapes, and managing to depict unreal scenes with disconcerting nonchalance. Recognising every element of the composition as bearing a special affinity to a part of the female body, Mallo created eccentric silhouettes where the floral component always corresponds to the hair, and large seashells form the chest or belly. Their concavity is a clear allusion to female sex organs, which, like a shell, contain the most precious organic substance or are the site of the boldest erotic desire. In any case, one meaning does not exclude the other: in Maruja Mallo’s view, each woman’s body houses a complexity that – as Dalí’s jocular description of Mallo underscored – makes her “mitad ángel, mitad marisco” (half-angel, half-crustacean).