Brazilian painter Beatriz Milhazes brilliant work as a painter is by definition Post Conceptual Abstraction. Her work comes to form literally with the “return to painting” in Brazil in the 1980′s, after the Conceptual Artist era in Brazil had been fully realized. Milhazes works speak not merely of great visual beauty, but also raw energy orchestrated into a high symphonic episode that moves into both the greatest of dark and light. Mihazes continues to work in her small studio n Rio de Janero even with the call for more and more of her exhilarating and unique works, which get much more down and dirty with pattern and design, and break free into moments of explosive color emanating from what sometimes appears to be the salt of the earth turned into a universe of unequaled delight. I am completely aligned with what I see as Milhazes’ idea that art representing the beauty and pleasure of the world elevates us and brings us out of the darkness that can inhabit one’s life. This is something that I have personally dedicated to pursue in my own life’s work as an African American artist based in Los Angeles.
Beatriz Milhazes: Images of her Tremendous Paintings and Commentary
Event Date: 12 – 20, 2010
Beatriz Milhazes came of age during a pivotal moment in Brazilian history. Following the collapse of the military dictatorship when vivid imagery and lush colors were being reintroduced into the local art scene, Milhazes absorbed herself in this new opportunity, pushing color and shape to exciting new levels. For her latest exhibition, Beatriz has created five new paintings and a window mural. The works display new movement in her style as she incorporates geometric abstraction, grid-like compositions and neon colors into her art. As always, Milhazes exhibits a profound command over her unique aesthetic and the show is worth checking out if you’re in London. For more info, click here.
Stephen Friedman Gallery
25-28 Old Burlington Street
London W1S 3AN
Milhazes is known for her work juxtaposing Brazilian cultural imagery and references to western Modernist painting.
The daughter of a lawyer and an art historian, Milhazes was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1960.She studied social communication at Faculdades Integradas Hélio Alonso (FACHA), Rio De Janeiro from 1978 to 1981 and studied at the School of Visual Arts (Escola de Artes Visuais – EAV) of Parque Lage, Rio De Janeiro from 1980 to 1982.
Milhazes has had solo and group exhibitions in a number of museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. From 4-21 July 2009, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris presented a major exhibition of her work.
Milhazes’ paintings are in the permanent collections in many institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Banco Itaú, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
Milhazes is represented by Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.
Artista plástica Beatriz Milhazes apresenta suas obras na Galeria Fortes Vilaça
Valéria Gonçalvez/AE Artista plástica carioca Beatriz Milhazes apresenta suas obras na Galeria Fortes Vilaça, em São Paulo
Art in Review
By Roberta Smith
Published: March 22, 1996
Beatriz Milhazes Edward Thorp Gallery 103 Prince Street SoHo Through April 13
First, a simple assertion: If abstract painting makes a comeback — and it probably will — women will have a lot to do with it. Support for that thought can be found in several SoHo galleries this month, and especially in the singularly impressive solo debut of Beatriz Milhazes, a Brazilian artist in her mid-30′s who was included in this season’s Carnegie International in Pittsburgh.
Simultaneously festive, tawdry and melancholy, Ms. Milhazes’s elaborately patterned paintings have a strange faded glory and a sure intelligence, with a layering of references, forms and colors that keeps the mind in constant motion. Her drifting, spherical patterns often cluster toward the top of her canvases like lanterns (or chandeliers) at a party, or luscious pieces of fruit on a laden tree. They can seem related to the Pattern and Decoration painting of 1970′s artists like Miriam Schapiro and Robert Kushner, or, more recently, the work of Philip Taaffe and Fred Tomaselli. But something in her work’s emotional tone; colors, and thin, shiny surfaces aligns it with the less abstract efforts of artists like Manuel Ocampo and Julio Galan, who also come from Roman Catholic post-colonial cultures.
The list of applied arts, crafts and women’s work evoked by these more or less floral patterns is marvelously dizzying. Without getting too disjunctive about it, they conjure lace making, beading, crocheting, stenciling, open metalwork, furniture decoration, hand-painted signs, wrapping paper and wallpaper. For breathing room, there are flat areas of color broken by bits of drawing that suggest both old, deteriorating walls and modernist monochromes.
Ms. Milhazes’s motifs rarely behave with decorative precision — they aren’t arranged symmetrically, nor do they repeat regularly — which also weighs them toward painting. So does her palette, which is dissonant in both appearance and allusion. For example, in “In Albis,” a deep blackish blue, suitable to depict the robe of the Virgin Mary, jostles a shiny sour green that has the flavor of a backwater saloon, while rosette designs are highlighted with a hot pink that come from a different century altogether.
Ms. Milhazes juggles a lot and drops almost nothing in these paintings. They show an artist looking deep into herself and her cultural roots and figuring what to give painting that it hasn’t quite had before. ROBERTA SMITH
Natural forms + rigorous geometry
Linda Chenit, January 26, 2009
Beatriz Milhazes/Bibi, 2003
The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain is pleased to present an exhibition of the work of Beatriz Milhazes, one of the most celebrated Brazilian visual artists today. Offering an overview of her work of the past decade, the exhibition will include a selection of large-format acrylic paintings as well as a remarkable new collage that she has created specifically for the show. The Fondation Cartier has also commissioned the artist to produce a special architectural installation for the exhibition. Using a technique closely related to collage, she will apply motifs made of translucent adhesive vinyl directly onto the glass walls of the Fondation Cartier, creating an effect that is evocative of stained-glass. Reflecting her interest both in natural forms and rigorous geometry, this striking installation will enter into a powerful visual dialogue with the architecture of Jean Nouvel and the surrounding garden.
Beatriz Milhazes/Coisa Linda, 2002
The work of Beatriz Milhazes occupies a unique position between Latin American and Western traditions. It is thus not surprising that she showed an early interest in the work of Brazilian writer and poet, Oswald de Andrade (1890–1954) and that of his wellknown companion, the painter Tarsila do Amaral (1886–1973). Andrade’s Manifesto Antropofago (1928) called upon Brazilian artists to develop their own unique culture by “devouring” European styles and melding them with elements derived from local culture. Tarsila do Amaral’s painting expressed this philosophy, combining the bright colors and tropical imagery of Brazil with the surrealism she discovered in Europe. Inspired by her predecessors, Beatriz Milhazes embraces a dizzying kaleidoscope of influences, following an approach that she describes as “culture eating culture.” Her canvases have an undeniably Brazilian flavor, filled with an abundance of brightly colored, highly decorative motifs. Much of the artist’s inspiration comes from the high and low art present in her native country, including sources as varied as ceramics, lacework, jewelry design, carnival decoration, and Colonial baroque architecture.
Beatriz Milhazes/A chuva, 1996
Beatriz Milhazes/Yogurt, 2008
The delicate arabesques of tropical flowers and leaves have also found their way into her painting, revealing the artist’s fascination for luxurious vegetation. Other references for these works, which revisit the traditional genres of landscape and still-life, range from the contemplative works of Albert Eckhout – a 17th century Dutch painter who recorded the plants and animals of Brazil – to the modernist landscape designs of Roberto Burle Marx, known for his design of Copacabana beach promenade in 1970.
Beatriz Milhazes/Havai 2003
The paintings of Beatriz Milhazes express many of the formal preoccupations inherent in the history of abstract painting, from the vibrant color of Matisse to the rigorous structural composition of Mondrian. The underlying square fields of color that serve as the background for many of her works and the overlaying motifs, call to mind the work of early modernist abstract artists such as Kupka, Klee, and Léger. The artist has stated: “I am seeking geometrical structures, but with freedom of form and imagery taken from different worlds.” Classical music, particularly the opera, as well as popular music such as bossa nova or tropicalia, motivate the “choreographed spontaneity” of the artist’s compositions. Stripes, rays, lines and circular forms evoke a synchronized rhythm while the dynamics of color articulate harmony and dissonance.
Beatriz Milhazes/Beatriz Milhazes
This clearly relates Milhazes compositions to those of other 20th century masters who have explored the relationship between music and art, such as Kandinsky and Delaunay. The use of intensely vibrant colors, such as fuchsia, gold or orange, endows her canvases with an explosive energy that many have compared to the breathtaking rhythm of fireworks.
Beatriz Milhazes/Ice Grape, 2008
Beatriz Milhazes/Set design for Tempo de Verão (Summertime),by Marcia Milhazes Contemporary Dance Company, 2006
To create this elaborate network of forms, Milhazes has developed a technique that is closely related to monotype and collage. The artist first paints the motifs and drawings of her work on translucent plastic sheets. She then applies them to the canvas and peels the plastic off, superimposing images and colors in a variety of combinations. During the transfer process, part of the motif sometimes tears, leaving portions of itself behind. These accidents create interesting surfaces marred by subtle imperfections. The slow and laborious process leads to rich palimpsests of overlaid images, some fully present, some masked, some only ghostly silhouettes.
Beatriz Milhazes/Taschen Store, New York City, NY, 2007
During the past several years, the artistic production of Beatriz Milhazes has continued to expand, recently branching out into arenas such as, theatre sets, site-specific installations, and design work, including fabric and tapestry. She has also created two artist’s books, one in conjunction with the MoMA and one with the Thomas Dane Gallery, London, which explore the realms of printmaking and collage. Through her diversity of practice and multiplicity of sources, Beatriz Milhazes erases all distinctions between the high and the low, the national and the international, the classical and the contemporary, leaving her free to explore the entire realm of visual expression.
Beatriz Milhazes/In My Dreams
Beatriz Milhazes Bio_Express
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1960, Beatriz Milhazes entered Rio’s renowned Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage in the early 1980s. She emerged on the Brazilian art scene in the midst of what was known as “the return to painting” of the Geraçao Oitenta (the 1980s Generation), which followed the more austere conceptualist art that dominated the country in the 1970s.
From April 4 to June 21, 2009Born in 1960 in Rio de Janeiro, Beatriz Milhazes emerged on the Brazilian art scene in the mid-1980s. Exhibited in many galleries and several international biennials, her work is represented in the collections of some of the world’s greatest museums.Intricately layered with a profusion of ornamental motifs, her vibrant and hypnotic paintings refer to sources as diverse as the Colonial baroque, high modernism, and popular Brazilian art.
For her exhibition at the Fondation Cartier, the artist presents a focused selection of large format acrylic paintings, chosen from her work of the past decade, as well as a monumental collage created especially for the show. She has also realized a monumental commission for the building’s glass façades. Her striking installations play with natural light to create a powerful visual dialogue with the architecture of Jean Nouvel and the surrounding garden.
// April 10, 2008
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1961, Beatriz Milhazes works in the pure aesthetic style of the Pattern and Decoration movement. Influenced by her native land of Brazil, her vibrant and bold use of color and patterns create work that is as much playful, free and psychedelic, as it is geometric, organized and rhythmic.
The Pattern and Decoration movement was not originally popular in the art world because of the movements lack of political statements and stances, “art for arts sake:” “Though playful and innovative, especially in the use of materials, Pattern and Decoration didn’t make much of an impact in the art world. It was dismissed as frivolous, with the work regarded as purely decorative and thus not warranting serious critical or curatorial attention.” (NYT: Fresh Eyes on a Colorful Movement) What was deemed not worth talking about has now gained global visibility since its beginnings in the 70′s and 80′s.
Photo from tate.org.uk
The Decoration and Pattern movement is not completely detached from society and the world around it. I feel the art, and artists involved, take a very positive stance that speaks not from the created politics and mottos of the mind, but from love and the appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us. And this philosophy of focusing more on the pleasures of life, rather than its hardships, is very evident in the shapes, colors and patterns of each of Milhazes’ piece.
Photo from James Cohan Gallery
Many of these explosions of colour originate in her small, compact studio, where she has been based since 1987. It is situated right next door to Rio’s luscious botanical gardens, and, inevitably, the forms and patterns of the flowers – delicate swirls and leaf-like shapes – have found their way into her paintings. She has also “taken advantage of the atmosphere of the city”, with its rich urban mix incorporating chitão (the cheap, colourful Brazilian fabric), jewellery, embroidery and folk art. Other influences range from architectural – the work of Roberto Burle Marx, the landscape architect and garden designer who created the five-kilometre Copacabana beach promenade in Rio – to Pop symbols such as Emilio Pucci fabric patterns. Painterly inspiration comes from the seventeenth-century Dutch artist Albert Eckhout, who travelled through colonial Brazil, and the Brazilian Modernist Tarsila do Amaral, as well as Mondrian, Matisse and Bridget Riley.
- In the Studio, tate.org.uk
Photo from James Cohan Gallery
“Evidence of her terms of reference can be found pinned to the walls of her studio – magazine fragments, postcards and pieces of clothing, as well as some of her own drawings.” She begins with an idea of colors and images, but “nothing is clear until the end”. And, maybe surprisingly, Milhazes is “very discipline in her creative routine.” (In the Studio)
She also incorporates a wide range of materials, including many that were original inspirations for the very piece:
In Cacao, for example, the gold foil squares of Ghiradelli chocolates play against the pastel packaging of Lindt, Lacta, and Nestle bars. Milhazes embellishes this brightly patterned surface with yet more floral shapes, here mostly cut from shimmering pieces of holographic paper. While some viewers may blanch at such sensory overload, preferring the relative austerity of a classic Cubist collage, I for one appreciate Milhazes’s decorative indulgence. Like the flowers and chocolates that partially inspire them, her works remain unstinting sources of pleasure.
- Art in America, “Beatriz Milhazes at James Cohan”
Mariposa, 2004, acrylic on canvas, 98 x 98 inches Photo from James Cohan Gallery
An explosion of ornament is certainly apparent in Mariposa, where a pink and flesh-toned ground supports dozens of blooming flowers, including a dazzling dahlia whose deep violet core gradually fades to lavender petals. These floral fireworks are anchored on the right by a dark filigree of French curves that transforms the entire composition into a magnificent brooch.
- Art in America, “Beatriz Milhazes at James Cohan”
Peace and Love, 2005-2006, Installation, Gloucester Road Tube StationPhoto by paulbence
Entitled Peace and Love, this monumental commission occupies an entire side of the station and creates a visual dialogue with both the architecture and the constant movement of trains and travelers within.
Each of the nineteen vaulted arches on the District Line platform at Gloucester Road contains a part of a dense, tightly-knit composition which skilfully combines many complex elements into an elegantly balanced whole. The work, like the station, has its own rhythm. The images run across the arches, creating their own momentum and mirroring the movement of the passengers and the trains inside the station. The vibrant colour and exuberant shapes within the work keep the viewer’s gaze in constant motion.
-Peace and Love
Photo from tate.org.uk
Photo from tate.org.uk
Photo from tate.org.uk
Photo by didier
Photo by smallbox
Photo by Bree Apperley
Photo by Bree Apperley
Title Photo from James Cohan Gallery
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Artist: Beatriz Milhazes
I first noticed the work of Beatriz Milhazes in the March 08 issue of Elle Decor. The article features the Victorian apartment of Rosa de la Cruz Bonfiglio which is steeped in art from painting to drawing and sculpture. Not surprising, Rosa’s parents are major collectors in Miami who have opened their contemporary-art-packed mansion in Key Biscayne to the public.
Courtesy of Elle Decor, below are 2 photos from Rosa’s apartment featuring work from Milhazes.
Artist Beatriz Milhazes was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1960. Milhazes has work in the permanent collections of, among others, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I love her use of color incorporating elements of modern design with her own spin of Brazilian culture.
“No Fear of Beauty”
Her opulent compositions have made Beatriz Milhazes one of the best-known Brazilian painters in the world. Matisse, Op Art, the brilliant colors of the carnival-a wide range of influences merge in her stunning paintings. Achim Drucks introduces the artist, who lives in Rio de Janeiro and is represented in the Deutsche Bank Collection.
Beatriz Milhazes, Beleza Pura, 2006; Courtesy Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
Beatriz Milhazes, Rosa branca no centro, 1997; Deutsche Bank Collection; © Courtesy Stephen Friedman Gallery and Galeria Camargo Vilaco, São Paulo
Beatriz Milhazes, O Pato, 1996/1998; Deutsche Bank Collection; © Courtesy Stephen Friedman Gallery and Galeria Camargo Vilaco, São Paulo
Beatriz Milhazes, Bala de Leite, 2005; Courtesy Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
Beatriz Milhazes, O Elefante Azul, 2002; Courtesy Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
Beatriz Milhazes, O Espelho (The mirror), 2000; Deutsche Bank Collection; © Courtesy Stephen Friedman Gallery and Galeria Camargo Vilaco, São Paulo
Beatriz Milhazes, O Sabado, 2000; Deutsche Bank Collection; © Courtesy Stephen Friedman Gallery and Galeria Camargo Vilaco, São Paulo
Beatriz Milhazes; Chokito, 2006; Courtesy Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
Beatriz Milhazes,Nega Maluca, 2006; Courtesy Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
Beatriz Milhazes, Sul da América, 2002; Courtesy Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
||An explosion of form and color; circles of beautiful turquoise and silver surfaces, between them a blossom painted in hues of lilac that looks as though it had been made with a Spirograph set. The 1960s drawing tool also seems to have been used to draw the other violet spirals on the large-scale canvas. More stylized flowers hover around them, curlicues recalling seventies wallpaper; together with discs in orange and gold hues, they partially cover a massive black square-Malevich’s icon of a radically reduced abstraction is on the verge of being swallowed up by a colorful armada of ornamental forms.Beleza Pura, pure beauty, is the title Beatriz Milhazes gave her painting from 2006-it seems programmatic for the work of the artist, who was born in 1960 in Rio de Janeiro. “The word decorative is normally pejorative when it’s applied to art. I don’t have any fear of beauty,” she declared in 2006. Her title also refers to the hit of the same name by the singer Caetano Veloso, one of the chief figures of the Tropicalismo movement of the late sixties. Without being explicitly political, the vital energy of this movement of artists and musicians was directed against cultural monotony as it was propagated by the Brazilian military regime at that time. Folklore elements blended with American and European influences.Her paintings are the product “…of the mad struggle between baroque figuration and rigorous construction,” as Richard Armstrong, the current director of the New York Guggenheim Museum, formulates it. Armstrong was one of the first curators outside Brazil to take notice of the artist. In 1995, he invited her to take part in Carnegie International, the exhibition that led to her international breakthrough. In 2003 she represented Brazil at the Venice Biennale.But Milhazes’s painting with its disappearing black square can also be taken as a reference to another influential artistic movement in the country-Modernismo. One of the most important representatives of this Brazilian answer to the early European avant-garde movements was the writer Oswald de Andrade. In his Manifesto Antropófago (Cannibalistic Manifesto) of 1928, he developed his own, Brazilian version of modernism under the motto “Instead of pushing the foreign away, eat it.” He countered dominant European culture with tropical growth, naivety, savagery, and poetry. He recommended ingesting the most enriching parts of European culture, transforming them, and simply throwing the rest away.This strategy of transformation is crucial to Milhazes’s work. She operates from a variety of sources: along with the most important protagonist of Modernismo, Tarsila de Amaral, whose paintings blend European influences with indigenous forms, she cites Henri Matisse’s cut-outs and color combinations and the dynamism of Piet Mondrian’s late work as sources of inspiration-such as his famous painting Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942-43). Op Art influences and the wild fabric patterns of Emilio Pucci collide with decorative motifs from colonial architecture. The floral and plant forms she uses in many of her works-including O Pato (1996/98) from the Deutsche Bank Collection-were not made from nature, but based on various different models including Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits, tablecloths, and the “exotic” jewelry Miriam Haskell made for Carmen Miranda, the “Brazilian Bombshell” who conquered Hollywood in the 1940s and who embodied, in her bizarre costumes and fruit-bowl hats, the exaggerated cliché of the temperamental South American woman. Milhazes re-imports this phenomenon of exoticism, so to speak.The tension in Milhazes’s work is not only between figuration and abstraction, but also between the global and local influences that merge in her work. “I am an abstract painter and I speak an international language, but my interest is in things and behaviors that can only be found in Brazil,” she explained in a conversation with the musician Arto Lindsay. And this can mean the delirium of colors and forms at the Carnival in Rio, the melancholy bossas of Antônio Carlos Jobim, or the wave-shaped patterned promenades the landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx designed for the Copacabana beach.To many viewers, her brilliantly colored painting seems typical for Brazil-an error, as Milhazes explains in a catalogue to her project for the Fondation Cartier in Paris: “We don’t have a strong tradition of painting in Brazil, and especially not painting with color. When I became internationally known as a Brazilian painter, the international audience thought that I came out of a strong tradition of Brazilian painting. This is because there is a general lack of information on Latin American art. Due to Spanish colonization, some countries like Mexico or Venezuela have a strong painting tradition. This is not the case for Brazil. The most important and well-known Brazilian art is conceptual and constructivist. There is no special interest in color. Brazil is a colorful country, but its art isn’t. That is why people get confused. I use elements from my culture, and color is one of them, but I’m the only one to do so.”Pink, dusty rose, turquoise, orange-red-her silkscreen Rosa branca no centro from 1997 in the Deutsche Bank Collection is drenched in intense color. A stylized flower appears in the middle, surrounded by circles of pearls and filigree patterns reminiscent of lace tablecloths. Milhazes’s paintings are rarely arranged around a center as this one is, which lends it a kind of quietude. The images usually seem as though one spectacular explosion of color outshone the next, like fireworks. The precise compositions prevent the paintings from falling apart into individual elements; despite all their differences and tensions, they cohere as a whole.This is also due to Milhazes’s unusual working process. She worked with collage early in her career by introducing fabrics into her paintings. In the late 1980s, she began to draw the contours of her flowers and mandalas on transparent plastic foil, coloring them in with acrylic paint and then cutting them out after they dried. She can then shift these forms around on the canvas until they find their final position, where Milhazes adheres them to the surface with the colored side down and then pulls off the plastic backing, which she often uses for other paintings. This is why identical shapes often appear in different paintings. The artist explains: “I like the resulting smooth texture, the way in which the painting seems ‘frozen’ in time. I love painting, but I do not want the texture of the brushstrokes or the ‘hand’ of the painter to be visible on my canvases.”This “anti-expressive” strategy makes her paintings appear cool, while the process of construction remains visible. This process takes place entirely on the canvas; Milhazes does not use sketches for her paintings, and the transference of painted forms doesn’t always go perfectly. The paint tears, or a portion remains stuck on the plastic foil. The resulting irregularities seem like points of erosion and give the surfaces the impression of being weathered. Her canvases recall palimpsests in which multiple layers of time are superimposed.This sets her paintings apart from Bridget Riley’s flawless, purist Op Art compositions. The 2001 Riley show at the Dia Art Foundation left such an impression on Milhazes that she began experimenting with rectangles and straight lines for the first time. Since then, the range of her paintings has expanded further. She’s gone back to her early collages, this time adding variously colored paper to her works instead of fabrics-shiny, metallic-blue candy-wrapper paper, marbled wrapping paper, chocolate wrappers. In this way, she further intensifies the overabundance of visual stimuli that characterizes all her work. She directs the viewer’s gaze around the picture surface, without providing anywhere for it to rest. Milhazes’s paintings hover between a stunning ornamental beauty and an overload of forms, colors, styles, and quotes. It is not the kind of beauty in which the eye can rest, however; instead, it absorbs the gaze and threatens to overpower the viewer.
By CAROL KINO/NYTimes
Published: October 24, 2008
STANDING in a back exhibition space at James Cohan Gallery in Chelsea, the Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes sounded like a rigorous Constructivist as she discussed her four latest paintings, which were propped against the walls.
Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery
Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery
“Summertime” (2004) a chandelier designed as a set piece for her sister Marcia’s dance company. Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery
“Horto,” a textile design.
Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery
“Ice Grape” (2008)
Beatriz Milhazes, has a solo show at James Cohan Gallery in Chelsea.
“This one is based on squares, kind of a grid,” she said, pointing to “Mulatinho,” whose blocks of color are broken up by dots, rippling stripes, paisleylike ornaments, stylized flowers and a piece of carefully painted fruit.
Mr. Cohan, her dealer, who had just walked into the room, started laughing. “You and Mondrian,” he said.
Although Ms. Milhazes clearly considers herself a geometric abstractionist, those are hardly the first words that spring to mind when regarding her work, the focus of a solo show at the gallery.
Squares often come laced with lines and dots, circles frequently mutate into eye-popping targets, and everything is laden with motifs that evoke the multilayered culture of her home, Rio de Janeiro. There are arabesques, roses and doily patterns, borrowed from Brazilian Baroque, colonial and folk art; flowers and plants inspired by the city’s botanical garden, which is next door to her studio; and thick wavy stripes — a nod to the undulating Op Art-inspired mosaic pavement that the Brazilian landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx created in 1970 for the promenade at Copacabana Beach.
Yet Ms. Milhazes, 48, maintains that her compositions are essentially geometric. “Sometimes I put the square behind,” she said, referring to the initial layer of the painting, “and I build up things on top of it. The squares may disappear, but they are still a reference for me to think about composition. And I’ve always been very loyal to my ideas.”
Today her career seems as jampacked as her paintings themselves. In addition to the show at James Cohan, which runs through Nov. 15, her first major career survey is on view at the Pinacoteca do Estado in São Paulo, Brazil. By early November, within a span of a month, three limited-edition projects — a tapestry, a textile design and an artist’s book — will have been issued. She has also just completed a new site-specific window installation for a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. (Sometime next year she will create a similar piece for the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center in New York.)
Then there is “Gamboa,” a sculptural installation that will be unveiled on Nov. 1 at Prospect.1, the contemporary-art biennial in New Orleans. Ms. Milhazes intends to transform one room of a 19th-century mint building into a shimmering chandelier hung with globes and flowers, all of which have been fabricated by workers at one of the many samba schools in Rio.
“It didn’t make any sense to organize a room with paintings,” Ms. Milhazes said of the project. “New Orleans was always about the vitality, the dancing and the music. So I link it — the carnival in New Orleans with the Carnaval in Rio. It will make this kind of dialogue between two cities.”
Growing up under the former military dictatorship in Brazil, Ms. Milhazes did not have access to the mainstream art world. Although Brazil has had an avant-garde art scene since the 1930s, opportunities for young artists in Rio were limited in the early 1980s, when she embarked on her career. Back then Latin American collectors typically focused on work from past eras. “We didn’t have any voice,” Ms. Milhazes said of her colleagues from that time.
For a young painter who longed to see the work of 20th-century masters like Mondrian and Matisse, the situation was especially arid. “Twenty-five years ago, if you didn’t travel, you never would see paintings,” she said. And today, she noted, painting is still only an undercurrent in Brazil’s art scene. “We have strong contemporary art,” she said, “but more in conceptualism and installation. So I am quite isolated here.”
But isolation also helped Ms. Milhazes develop her rather unusual working process. “You don’t have the history on your back,” she explained. She starts by painting with acrylic on sheets of plastic, working motif by motif, creating each image in reverse as if she were making a print.
Once a motif is dry she glues the painted side to the canvas, almost as if it were a decal, and then peels off the plastic to reveal a surface that looks handmade but is nearly unmarked by brushstrokes. Then she continues layering as if she were making a collage. When she developed this method in the late ’80s, she said, “it opened a huge door for me.”
The door opened further in 1992, when the Brazilian curator and critic Paulo Herkenhoff brought three Americans to Ms. Milhazes’s studio: Richard Armstrong, then a curator at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh and now the incoming director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York; Madeleine Grynsztejn, then a curator at the Art Institute of Chicago and now director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; and Fred Henry, president of the Bohen Foundation, a nonprofit group that commissions new works of art.
Mr. Henry soon became a devoted collector, and Mr. Armstrong eventually invited Ms. Milhazes to participate in the 1995 Carnegie International. “That was the opening,” she said. Through the Carnegie, she met a New York dealer, Edward Thorp, who began showing her work in SoHo the next year. Her career quickly became multinational. Now she frequently shows in Europe, especially London, as well as in Latin America, Asia and New York.
Ms. Grynsztejn said Ms. Milhazes’s widespread appeal lies in the fact that she is a “glocal” artist — someone whose work is grounded in the international language of modernism while also firmly rooted in her own place and time. “What I really loved about the work,” she said, “was the way that it merged figuration and abstraction, and even decoration and craft, within the highly intellectual enterprise of formal abstraction.”
She was also fascinated by the strong echoes of local culture in Ms. Milhazes’s work. After leaving the studio, she recalled, “I remember very vividly that when we sat down to lunch, the plastic tablecloth that covered the restaurant tables had the same bright, busy patterns” as Ms. Milhazes’s paintings. Later that day she experienced another jolt of déjà vu while passing the ornamental facade of a Baroque church. At that point, she said, “I understood that that vernacular had infiltrated at a very high level into Beatriz’s work.”
Yet despite the Brazilian feel of her work, there is nothing else quite like it in Brazilian art, past or present, said Adriano Pedrosa, a curator in São Paulo who has known Ms. Milhazes for years. “She seems to have a quite close relationship with Brazilian art history,” he said, “but that’s because she’s appropriating things.”
He also sees her oeuvre as being related to Antropofagia, a Brazilian movement of the ’20s and ’30s whose name means cannibalism. Mr. Pedrosa described it as “this concept where the Brazilian native artist appropriates foreign elements and digests them to produce something personal and unique.”
In fact Ms. Milhazes often says her major influence is Tarsila, a Brazilian painter who came out of that movement, as well as Mondrian and Matisse.
“In the beginning,” she said, “I felt a connection between Spanish Latin American and Brazilian, which is more Portuguese: the Baroque churches, the costumes, the ruffles, things that have volume or a sculptural shape.”
But ultimately, she said, although she wanted to incorporate all those things into her work, “I wanted to put them together based on a geometric composition. Because at the end of the day, I was only interested in structure and order.”
More Articles in Arts » A version of this article appeared in print on October 26, 2008, on page AR22 of the New York edition.
Beatriz Milhazes’ colourful canvasses
The Whitechapel Gallery’s Iwona Blazwick on why she’s co-curating a show by the Brazilian artist
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Beatriz Milhazes, As Irmas (The Sisters) (2003)
Multi-coloured screenprint on Waterford 638g paper
131.4 x 151.2cm (51¾ x 59 5/8in)
Windsor Gallery, 3125 Windsor Boulevard, Vero Beach, Florida, 32963
Beatriz Milhazes, O Pato (1996 – 98)
The Whitechapel has always had a strong connection with Brazilian art (the gallery hosted the first UK show by Brazilian visual artist Hélio Oiticica in 1969 and has shown many Brazilian and Mexican artists over the years). With Brazil such a powerhouse at the moment the timing of the new show seems doubly resonant.
Blazwick was introduced to the work of Milhazes at Tate Modern when the artist was commissioned to create a mural at the end of level 7. “It was sensational and spanned the width of the building,” she says. “It’s absolutely extraordinary – a very immersive environment.
“The natural environment is omnipresent in Rio. It’s on the sea, there’s rainforest all around it but there’s also a darkness and an edginess and poverty. Beatriz’s work absorbs and celebrates that as well. She looks at traditional forms you might find in church interiors or peasant fabrics, love of lace and decoration and the excess of Carnival where the super poor become kings and queen for a day – or a week as it happens. You get these amazing head dresses festooned with glitter false eyelashes and all the rest of it. It’s very sparkly, very bling and about a conspicuous display of wealth and she draws that into her work. So there are all these different kinds of influences and an acknowledgement of the darkness of it and the oppressive nature of it.”
Beatriz Milhazes, Noite de Verão (Summer night) (2006)
Eagle-eyed Phaidon readers might also spot the influence of Bridget Riley in some of Milhazes’ pieces from around 2003.
“There’s no European art visible in Brazil – no Matisses none of that great early foundational stuff that we’re accustomed to,” said Blazwick. “She only saw it in reproductions when she was at art school, books and magazines. Then the first time she went to New York she saw show by Bridget Riley and Sonia Delaunay. For her it wasn’t a trajectory across the 20th century from Delaunay in 1906 to Riley in 2000 – she saw them in the same time frame and they blew her away. The two bodies of work were profoundly affecting for her. And she discovered the stripe!”
At the time, Milhazes was already pursuing an idea of revolving forms where the viewer’s eye can never rest. “She wants this idea of a very dynamic pictorial surface,” continues Blazwick, “where that idea of revolution on every level is this idea of never having a beginning or an end or a centre. She talks about the eye being constantly drawn back and forth across the surface of her images. And she uses abstract geometry to give it a perspectival depth. She uses what the vertical and horizontal can give in sense of creating a sense of space, of layering of things seen through other things.”
Beatriz Milhazes: Screenprints 1996-2011runs from December 3 – February 28, 2012
Portrait of Beatriz Milhazes by Luis Gomes (2007)
Beatriz Milhazes, Bye, bye love
Panamericano. Beatriz Milhazes. Paintings 1999–2012
14 September–19 November, 2012
Malba – Fundación Costantini, Buenos Aires
Avda. Figueroa Alcorta 3415
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Guest curator: Frédéric Paul
Malba – Fundación Costantini is pleased to announce Panamericano. Beatriz Milhazes. Paintings 1999–2012, a selection of about thirty recent paintings by the renowned artist Beatriz Milhazes (born 1960 in Rio de Janeiro, where she lives and works), as well as a scenographic work specially designed for the gallery on the museum’s second floor. This is the first solo exhibit for Milhazes in a Latin American institution outside of her country, and it has been produced entirely by Malba.
Curated by Frédéric Paul, the exhibit focuses on the past ten years of the artist’s work, gathering pieces that are primarily from private and public collections in Brazil and the United States. Among these are two works on loan for the first time from the Guggenheim Museum in New York and one from the Museu de Arte Moderna in São Paulo. The local public will also have its first chance to place in their new context as part of the private collection of Eduardo F. Costantini, two important works, O mágico (2001) and Pierrot e Colombina (2009–10), which open and close this important decade for the artist.
The title of the exhibit, Panamericano, alludes to the to-and-fro between North and South, between new West and old West, a central theme of Milhazes. Exotic outside of Brazil, she continues to be so within it as well, and today she is recognized as one of that country’s most important artists.
“Numerous figurative elements are at play in Beatriz Milhazes’ paintings, but they appear there neutralized in relation to the real, which serves as their model. Her flowers are motifs of flowers. Her fruits are motifs of fruits. And it is without a doubt this reduction of their general form and the elimination of their substance which allow them to interact in the abstract painting with other forms from the decorative realm,” analyzes Frédéric Paul.
For the occasion of this exhibit, Malba has published a 124-page, Spanish-English bilingual catalogue, the first Spanish-language reference publication on a retrospective exhibit of Milhazes’ work. This book contains the essay “Beatriz Milhazes or The Advantages of Never Leaving the Labyrinth in Painting,” by curator Frédéric Paul; as well as the re-edition and the first translation to Spanish of two key texts about the artist: “Beatriz Milhazes – The Brazilian Trove” by critic and curator Paulo Herkenhoff, first published in 2001 for her exhibit at the Ikon Gallery (England) and at the Birmingham Museum of Art (United States), and an interview with fashion designer Christian Lacroix, which was originally published in Beatriz Milhazes/Avenida Brasil (Frédéric Paul ed., Domaine de Kerguéhennec, Centre d’art contemporain, 2004).
In 2003 Beatriz Milhazes represented Brasil at the 50th Venice Biennale. She also participated in São Paulo’s International Biennials (1998, 2004) and Shanghai, China’s Biennial (2006). Her most recently museum shows include Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, São Paulo (2008); Fondation Cartier, Paris (2009); Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2011), among others. Her works are found in the collections of museums such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, in Madrid.
Beatriz Milhazes. Hawaii, 2003. Screenprint. Edition : 40. 52 x 46 in. (132 x 117 cm.). Compliments of Durham Press.
Beatriz MilhazesIssue #84 Mar – May 2012United States, Vero Beach
Beatriz Milhazes’ pictorial work begins with a confluence of artistic movements in her socio-cultural environment, from Tropicalia to Bossa Nova, dancing to the rhythm of the sublime and exotic beauty of her native Rio de Janeiro. Milhazes recreates the ancestral legacy of Rio’s sweet romanticism, fused to contemporary realities.
Many of the blossoming, colorful, spring-like images we see in Milhazes’ painting originate in her small and compact studio, where the artist, born in Rio de Janeiro in 1960, has worked since 1987. It is located right next to the city’s lush Botanical Gardens; inevitably, she finds there the inspiration for her flowery shapes and patterns, her delicate whirlpools, her leaf-like figures.
The artist has also been influenced by the atmosphere of her native city and its rich urban admixture, and her work incorporates chitão (the cheap, colorful Brazilian fabric), jewels, embroideries, and symbols from popular culture. Other influences include architecture—particularly the work of Roberto Burle Marx, the landscape artist and garden designer who created the Copacabana boardwalk—and pop icons such as Emilio Pucci’s fabric patterns. Her pictorial inspiration comes from Seventeenth-Century European artist Albert Eckhout, who traveled through colonial Brazil, and from Tarsila do Amaral, the modernist Brazilian artist, as well as Matisse, Mondrian, Le Parc, Bridget Riley, and Frank Stella.
Milhazes’ flowers are not a commentary on color, print, arabesques, or empty decorations, but on their role rituals, conceptualizing a vital parade of printing in her everyday environment; so, her inspiration emanates from transculturation and its endless aesthetic potential.
Milhazes’ art finds support on the precepts of the serigraphic pictorial tradition and in her experimentation with mixed techniques from contemporary art. Her paintings reveal for us a variety of readings and aesthetic paradigms, establishing a play of conceptualization where her work expresses the fact that description is unnecessary because it can mar the interpretive freedom of the artistic image.
Beleza Pura is the title Milhazes gave painting starting in 2006. “The word ‘decorative’ is usually pejorative when applied to art. I am not afraid of beauty,” she declared that year. The title also refers to a hit song of the same name by Caetano Veloso, one of the central figures in 1960s Tropicalia. While not explicitly political, the vital energy of that movement of artists and musicians was directed against cultural monotony during the military dictatorship in Brazil. Elements of folklore mixed with American and European influences are also present in Milhazes’ work.
Her paintings are the product “…of the crazy struggle between baroque figuration and rigorous construction,” as noted by Richard Armstrong, the current director of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Armstrong was one of the first observers outside Brazil to make note of this artist. In 1995, he invited Milhazes to participate in the Carnegie International. In 2003, Milhazes represented Brazil at the Venice Biennale.
Milhazes’ work navigates toward the dancing circle of love. That carnival of passions surrounded by lush beaches and bohemian music, offers us the flavor and versatile rhythms of her tropical Olympus, where Latin America’s magical realism fertilizes the sanctuary she has built, proposing a fascinating mixture where orishás and angels come together in perfect harmony. Milhazes’ carnival is a confluence of poetics that emanate from the soul, evoking the warm lyricism that seduces the glamorous of her inner Rio de Janeiro.
Such glamour is also due to Milhazes’ unusual work process. Early in her career she worked with collages, through the introduction of fabric into her paintings. In the late 1980s, she began to draw the outlines of her flowers and mandalas on a transparent plastic sheet, coloring them with acrylic paint, and then cutting them out after drying. Afterwards she switches these shapes around the canvas until they find their final position; there they are attached to the canvas with the color surface facing down and the plastic cover is pulled away, often to be used in other works.
For the past decade, the range of her paintings has broadened even more. She has returned to her earlier collages, now adding paper in various colors rather than fabric; she uses a shining metallic blue, candy wrappers, marble paper, and chocolate wrappers. In this way, the overabundance of visual stimuli that characterizes her entire oeuvre is newly emphasized. Milhazes drives the viewer’s gaze around the surface of the work, without place for pause. Her works move between great ornamental beauty and an overload of shapes, colors, styles, and artistic assumptions.
Beatriz Milhazes, My Baby, 2000, acrylic on canvas, 70×70”. All images courtesy of Edward Throp Gallery, New York.
Beatriz Milhazes’s paintings are executed in a small studio next to Rio de Janeiro’s luscious botanical gardens. The local flavor found in her work comes not as much from the picturesque location of the artist’s studio, but rather through the asphyxiating quality of her complex and overwhelming compositions, which somehow translate the specific site in which they are produced. Despite the multitude of colors and figures, seemingly appropriated from flora and fauna, populating Milhazes’s canvases, these paintings are above all urban — in a very Carioca fashion. Rio’s long-held image of opulence, epitomized by its beautiful scenery, has become enmeshed with associations of the violence found in its streets. Despite the exuberance and apparent joy in Milhazes’s paintings, they are implacably serious, with more than a dash of irony. It is revelatory to discover that they are not particularly easy to live with, and more than one collector has admitted to being misled by their irresistible lure.
In fact, tropical flora and fauna, Brazilian or not, have made their way into Milhazes’s canvases through several mediating layers and sources other than nature itself — call it secondhand experience in situ. A certain tropical fruit, for example, has been appropriated from the Dutch painter Albert Eckhout (who traveled through colonial Brazil in the 17th century), and rendered in blue.
Milhazes’s painting technique itself has mediating qualities: after painting most of her figures in acrylic paint on sheets of transparent plastic, she considers different possibilities of placement and position before gluing them to the canvas. These paintings are packed with references from high and low origins, both local and international, contemporary and historical: Brazilian Baroque imagery, sixties peace signs, carnival decorations, real and invented pieces of jewelry, embroidery, and lace. Modernism is a strong source here, from Brazilian masters such as Tarsila do Amaral (the leading figure of Brazilian Antropofagia) to foreign ones, such as Mondrian (think Boogie Woogie) and Matisse (especially the cutouts). Decoration is a major concern, again with local and foreign references, from Brazilian midcentury elements (through landscape architect Burle Marx) to more international ones (such as Art Deco motifs). The melting pot of sources from various times and territories is developed further in the making of the paintings, with the different elements either maintaining their characters or losing them in the vast and articulate net of references that make up Milhazes’s particularly New World lexicon. All this through a precisely constructed composition at once tight and tense, and an elaborate play of layers which at times short-circuits the relationship between pictorial background and foreground. A painting by Milhazes is like a rare Amazonian plant, both ravishing and deceiving, full of tricks and treats; as you approach it, you may discover that it is in fact carnivorous, and above all, a creation of human imagination.
Beatriz Milhazes, The Prize, 2000, acrylic on canvas, 39.5×39.5”.
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, USA
Beatriz Milhazes’ work speaks of foreign things in a familiar language. This would perhaps account for much of the recent positive reception of this Brazilian painter in North American and European art circles. Facing one of her works, viewers may be pleased to recognise stereotypical elements that they have more or less carelessly constructed of the tropics (and Brazil stands in here, quite fittingly, for that vast, mysterious and sensual continent).
Milhazes is perhaps the only artist in Brazil to have critically addressed the exotic imagery identified with the country, doing so through the dextrous use of Modernist pictorial language. In her vividly coloured and intricately constructed paintings, Milhazes sets up an engaging play between low ‘foreign’ references and high European language. Figurative and abstract elements appropriated from tropical fauna and flora, folk art and craft, local pop culture, low fashion, jewellery, embroidery and lace, carnival and the colonial baroque are her major thematic sources, though recently Milhazes has also expanded her repertoire to include elements of a more ‘international’ origin (from Art Deco to 50s design motifs). Her palette of dazzling colours and hues could be taken, at a first glance, as being typically ‘native’; unsurprisingly, the use of black and white is scarce. Despite the unexpected colour juxtapositions, the overall result has a tense yet balanced pictorial effect (quasi-symmetry is one of the cunning compositional devices). In front of these carefully packed compositions with their elaborate play between figures, grounds, transparency and superimposition, your eye may wander through (if not fall prey to) labyrinthine trajectories.
It is curious to see how Milhazes’ paintings migrate from her studio in Rio to her gallery in SoHo. At her relatively small work space near the city’s beautiful Botanical Gardens (the flora, the fauna!), the paintings which are rarely larger than 2.5 x 2.5 m invade the compact rooms. There, due to the exiguous space (and far from Edward Thorp’s spacious white cube), the luscious, misleading and engulfing tableaux push you against the wall and force you to inspect the painting’s surface. Milhazes’ technique is to paint onto plastic, peel off the dried acrylic and glue it to the canvas. As a result, the brush strokes are still detectable, yet they have been frozen mid-way through the painting process, bearing a slick yet still gestural, duplicitous character (a feature which distinguishes her work from that of Pittman and Taaffe, two North American painters to whom she has been compared).
Milhazes’ painting bears an uneasy ironic character. In one painting a certain tropical fruit is in fact appropriated from Eckhout the Dutch painter who travelled through Brazil in the 18th century and rendered in blue. One enthusiastic New York reviewer described her paintings as ‘rare Amazonian plants’. But if the works are (stereo)typically Brazilian or Latin American, as Milhazes’ foreign commentators often proclaim, they play off this character with a less picturesque, less Edenic tone. The paintings are full of fictitious elements, small strategic forgeries and seemingly irreconcilable juxtapositions. Above all, they impose a sense of excess and confinement (in form and content) that is enlightening, suffocating and disorienting.
Los Angeles, California
July 29, 2012
Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles
New Abstract Paintings: The Cosmos suite (2012)
Golden Dream (2012), part of the Cosmos Suite of paintings
- California Toilet, Filthy Light Switch (2010) by Vincent Johnson. Archival Epson print (Private Collection, Miami, Florida). I provided this image as I realized its clear similarity to Golden Dream, which I completed a week ago in my studio in Los Angeles.
Two at Night (2012) from the Cosmos suite of paintings, Oil on canvas, 30×40 inches
Cosmos. Oil on canvas 2012 by Vincent Johnson
Cosmos Red Yellow Green. Oil on canvas 2012 by Vincent Johnson
Green God. Oil on canvas 2012 by Vincent Johnson
This new painting series is part of my ongoing exploration of painting materials and techniques from the history of painting. The works combine knowledge of painting practices of both abstract and representation paintings. The works concern themselves purely with the visual power that paintings can do through the manipulation of paint. Some of the underpaintings are allowed to dry for months; some of those are built dark to light, others light to dark. None are made in a single setting. Most are worked and reworked using studio materials. Each new series takes a different approach to the painted surface from how the paint is applied, to varying the painting mediums. This suite concerns itself with the layering of paint by building up the surface and altering and reworking the wet paint with studio tools.
Two larger paintings will be completed and photographed on Sunday, July 15, 2012 and posted here.
Vincent Johnson, Grayscale painting: The Storm (2012). Oil on canvas, 30×40 inches, created in studio in Los Angeles, California
Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles
Vincent Johnson, Nine Grayscale Paintings, Beacon Arts Center, Los Angeles, (2001). Oil on canvas. Each panel is 20×24 inches.
photograph of silver paint on my hands in studio, Los Angeles, during the creation of Nine Grayscale paintings.
Vincent Johnson – in Los Angeles studio working on Nine Grayscale Paintings, 2011
Los Angeles, California
Vincent Johnson received his MFA in Fine Art Painting from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California 1997 and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was selected for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 for the Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Slant and many other publications. His photographic works were most recently shown in the inaugural Pulse Fair Los Angeles. His most recent paintings were shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles.
Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
10.09. – 05.11.2011The work of Rio de Janeiro born artist Beatriz Milhazes (1960) calls to mind cross-cultural references ranging from local flora, Rio’s urban verve or Brazilian Baroque.
Credits (from top): Beatriz Milhazes – Spring Love, 2010 // Mundy, 2011 // Manjary, 2011 //