The colorful fine art of Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes represent much of what we think of when someone mentions Brazil: bright tropical colors; pulsating energy and rhythm of Carnivale; a fluid movement mixed with a carefree passion for life.
Rio de Janeiro is a city that I love and have returned to many times. There is just something so captivating about the people and the incredible beachside setting. And when I learned that Milhazes’ studio overlooks the Botanical Gardens in the city, I wasn’t surprised: you can see the inspiration in her modernist still life paintings where floral shapes collide in a frenzy of vivid colors.
Born in Rio in 1960, Beatriz Milhazes has taken the international art scene by storm. Well-known in Brazil, her first solo show in New York was held in 1996 and her career has been on a sharp rise since she was chosen to represent Brazil at the 2003 Venice Biennale. This was followed with important commissions for public works in London – including a mural for the restaurant at the Tate Modern Gallery and an incredible series of paintings, which fill the arches of the Gloucester Road Station on London’s Underground (top image).
The contemporary art of Milhazes is often rigidly structured with repeating shapes and geometric patterns strewn across a canvas divided into ordered planes of intense colors. Periquita (above) and Phebo (below), both of 2004, are a perfect example of her technique. Rather than paint directly onto the canvas, Milhazes paints her spirals, circles and floral motifs on individual sheets of plastic that are allowed to dry and then carefully peeled off and layered onto the canvas to create a collage. The overall effect is very flat and devoid of the artist’s brushstrokes.
Continuing with the collage technique, as a New York City advisor of Brazilian fine art, one of my favorite pieces is entitled Brinquelandia (below) which roughly translates as Playland and is an homage to London’s retail scene with a mix of colorful shopping bags jostling for position amongst her trademark floral petals.
One of Milhazes’ latest ventures has been the creation of fabulous mobiles and three-dimensional artworks (below). Here we see the forms traditionally associated with her paintings suspended in time and space in a gentle ongoing dance. They are simply entrancing for anyone who loves her work.
Unlike other contemporary artists, Beatriz Milhazes actually produces less than a dozen of her soulful Brazilian artworks per year. This makes it difficult for her representing dealers who are limited by her output to mount gallery shows every four to five years. The good news for fans is that she is held in major museum collections. The better news for collectors of Brazilian art is that her works can also be found through the secondary market via art advisors such as myself.
image credits: James Cohan Gallery, New York.