In Sigmar Polke, painting and the quest for the sublime combine in constantly novel and astounding inventions. His second major exhibition at the Kunsthaus Zürich in 2005, entitled ‘Works and Days’, brought this very much to the fore, with an examination of the alchemistic dimension in his work. For it he created the large-scale image ‘Levitation’: the mysterious phenomenon of objects – chiefly tables – rising up in defiance of gravity is presented here before a huddle of astonished witnesses, a group from a film still. The viewer follows their perplexed gaze towards the unsettling painterly goings-on at top right, and out of the frame to a beyond that can only be imagined. As trails of blood appear to trickle down from the top, the surface of the painting breaks up at the bottom, affording a glimpse of the stretcher through the polyester fabric.