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In her vibrant works, Brazilian painter Beatriz Milhazes fuses two very different ways of looking at the world. Her abstract compositions, which can be seen in a line with modernist masters from Henri Matisse to Bridget Riley, are drenched with the colors and light of her native country. Her paintings abound with signs of Brazil’s cultural roots and everyday life: carnival, folk art, and motifs from baroque to pop, all choreographed into an exuberant visual rhythm. Her chromatic constructions have an irresistible exotic allure, but, like in the work of Paul Gauguin, we find a broken paradise, where both the promises of life in the tropics and of modernist abstraction strike a darker, more doubtful note.
To achieve this balance, Milhazes developed a special technique at the end of the 1980s, painting her motifs on sheets of plastic and gluing them onto the canvas when dried. This method allows the artist to layer surfaces and create an oscillating effect between glorious sheen and melancholy shimmer. Since her breakthrough in the early 1990s, Milhazes has branched out into other media, creating silk screens, collages of chocolate and candy wrappers and all kinds of papers, sculptures and installations like giant mobiles of carnival floats and props, site-specific projects that turn building façades into stained-glass windows, and explorations of the body and rhythm in collaboration with her sister Marcia’s dance company.
This Milhazes monograph is spectacular in every detail. It presents more than 280 artworks throughout all work phases and media. Chapter breaks have been created by the artist specifically for this book as painted collages with diverse papers and found objects. The images are complemented by a conversation with editor Hans Werner Holzwarth, in which Milhazes unravels her processes and discusses the ideas and cultural background behind her work. An art-historical essay by David Ebony, an extensive artist biography by Luiza Interlenghi, and a poetic dictionary of key Milhazes motifs by Adriano Pedrosa round out this comprehensive volume.
Collector’s Edition (No. 101–1,100), each numbered and signed by Beatriz Milhazes.