Beatriz Milhazes is a Brazilian artist known for her vibrantly colourful art that incorporates Brazilian cultural imagery and modernist painting. The Jardim Botânico exhibition, at the PAMM in Miami, looks at the last 25 years of her work through a retrospective of her paintings, screenprints and collages. The exhibition traces her career from the mid-1990s to present day, exploring her use of bold colours, the layering of geometric and decorative forms, and use of motifs from a broad range of movements such as Modernismo, colonial baroque architecture, Opt art and Tropicalismo. Milhazes references Matisse as an inspiration; particularly his Cut-Outs period and anyone who has seen the recent Matisse The Cut-outs exhibition in New York or London will see links to his work.
Milhazes fuses modernist styles of painting with the emblems of her cultural heritage. Her abstract compositions are typically layered with imagery, particularly floral designs and ornate circular medallions. Colour is central to Milhazes work, the compositions explode like fireworks on the canvas. Milhazes work is unique in this way and unusual for a Brazilian artist, as Brazil does not have a strong tradition of painting, and especially not painting with colour.
Jardim Botânico, the title of the exhibition, refers to the area of Rio de Janeiro where Milhazes lives and works. The area is famous for its beautiful botanical garden, a constant inspiration for Milhazes, along with architecture, folklore, music, decorative art and culture. Milhazes merges global and local influences into her work and says of herself: “I am an abstract painter and I speak an international language, but my interest is in things and behaviours that can only be found in Brazil. This can mean the delirium of colours 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.”
These influences and inspirations occur as regular motifs in her paintings and collages. In this exhibition for example there is Santo Antônio, Albuquerque (1994) where the motifs of lace, roses, and pearl are dominant, reflecting images from the colonial baroque period. Whilst in O selvagem (1999) one sees influences of Pop-art in use with flowers, hearts and flowing lines. In Flores e Árvores (2012-3) the works are more linear and delicate, creating optical effects that recall the work of several Latin American masters of geometric abstraction from the 1960s and 70s. There are also several new pieces on display, these have been created specifically for this exhibition and are perfect for the space at PAMM. It is as if the gallery where designed specifically with Beatriz Milhazes and her work in-mind.
Image Credits: The image is from the PAMM website.