Beatriz Milhazes - Latin America New York Thursday, May 23, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Cesar Arche, Rio de Janeiro
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, in 1984

  • Catalogue Essay

    'Freedom' is a word that characterizes my work well- the freedom with which it combines different concepts, images, colors, abstraction and figuration. My work uses freedom with order.
    Beatriz Milhazes

    Beatriz Milhazes' work reflects a search for beauty across time and space that is at once disciplined and restless. Her rich visual language is an amalgam of influences, from art history to national heritage and folkloric symbolism. Her expansive registers of color and rampant figuration are reminiscent of the Modernist legacy, yet her frequent rejection of spatial depth and perspectival orientation points to a personal interest in alternate forms of visual discourse. As Brazilian-born Milhazes recognizes her debt to her European forbearers, she subtly sets herself apart from them. She subverts the conventional hierarchies of influence, avoiding direct art historical quotations that could superficially legitimize her work without encouraging further questioning and interaction. In spite of—or perhaps because of—her aesthetic links to the European tradition, she imbues her compositions with sumptuous allusions to local flora and the mosaic-like tile patterns of Rio de Janeiro's streets, while also referencing the Brazilian Baroque style and its colonial undertones. Due to her elaborate technique and industrious thematic exploration, her paintings usually take a long time to finish. As a result of her artistic process and interests in history, her work is rife with visual references to the passage of time, which she characterizes as a phenomenon that yields both development and decay.

    At the heart of Milhazes' art lay the concepts of pattern and juxtaposition. She appropriates elements from a wide array of aesthetic vocabularies and superimposes them over each other, gradually building up intricate compositions rich in texture and material possibilities. Embodying the legacy of Anthropophagia as a reaction to the enduring effects of colonialism, she exerts control over the traditional imagery of Portuguese decorative arts, taking ownership of their physical and allegorical connotations. She often makes Plexiglas stamps in her desired shapes and, after lathering paint on them, presses them onto the canvas, steadily weaving robust patterns that are entirely dependent on her creative agency. In some cases, she borrows from the French affichiste tradition and tears off fragments of paint, revealing the multiple layers and physical realities underneath. In doing so, Milhazes compromises the integrity of the surface, encouraging her viewers to reflect on the effects of cultural progress and corrosion.

    The present lot, Teu sangue se transformará em flores, which translates literally to "Your blood will turn into flowers", epitomizes the artist's tendency to hybridize otherwise disjointed historical narratives and visual traditions alike. The ornate border is reminiscent of Henri Matisse’s Le Lagon (Jazz) (1944) in its manipulation of pattern and order as a means to radicalize the picture plane. Here, Milhazes' canon is easily discerned in the work's perspectival superficiality and tendency to layer subjects—as well as themes— recalling the collages that would come to define her career in subsequent years.

    In juxtaposing a cherub— the icon perhaps most synonymous with European classicism—with her own contemporary oeuvre and propensity to compress space, Milhazes creates a work that is distinctly her own, while also paying homage to her early Baroque influences. The artist has long spoken of her desire to combine influences from European painting with her native Brazilian culture. On the subject she has noted, "Brazilian painting first developed out of European painting. In Brazil, if you wanted to be a painter you needed to begin with the concepts of painting developed there. [There was an idea that] we could 'eat' European culture and combine it with some aspects of ours." Teu sangue se transformará em flores highlights Milhazes' artistic process both conceptually and technically—it appropriates traditions of the past through a distinctly contemporary conceptual approach. The work ultimately represents the artist's ode to painting's limitless potential to expose and interpret the complex negotiations of visual culture across space and time.

  • Artist Biography

    Beatriz Milhazes

    Brazilian • 1960

    Beatriz Milhazes is best known for her vibrantly colored yet calculated compositions. The artist has cited Baroque architecture, lace work, Carnival decoration and the flora of the Jardim Botanico in Rio de Janiero chief among her inspirations. Milhazes' artistic practice is akin to monotype or collage in that the artist first paints motifs directly onto transparent plastic sheets and later applies them to the canvas, leaving the plastic to dry. The superimposed image allows for overlapping and layering, resulting in a textured canvas and a distorted central focal point. While seemingly chaotic, Milhazes' compositions are perfectly balanced due to the artist's technically sophisticated use of geometric forms and chromatic color palate.

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Teu sangue se transformará em flores

acrylic and gold leaf on canvas
71 3/4 x 56 in. (182.2 x 142.2 cm.)
Signed, titled and dated "B. Milhazes '84 'Teu Sangre se transformara en flores'" on the reverse. This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

$120,000 - 180,000 

Contact Specialist
Henry Allsopp
Worldwide Director, Latin American Art
+ 1 212 940 1216

Latin America

New York 23 May 2013 4pm