Eu só queria entender por que ele fez isso (I just wanted to understand why he did that)

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  • Provenance

    Galeria Camargo Vilaça, São Paulo; Private Collection, São Paulo

  • Catalogue Essay

    In Brazil, Beatriz Milhazes is one of the most renowned artists of her generation. Her work is included in collections around the world and her renown has led to several international public commissions.
     
    She emerged in the 1980s in Rio de Janeiro and is connected to a generation of artists that, like their peers in Europe and North America, revived painting following the more politically and conceptually-oriented art of the previous decades. Her initial interests focused on the legacy of Brazilian colonial baroque, articulating it with a cacophony of imagery stemming from contemporary culture. Her initial iconography centred on the conjunction of architecture and nature, and she soon developed the technique that defines her practice, giving an overall coherence to her oeuvre – a combination of painting and collage that is characteristic of the acrylic medium itself. Her invocation of historical themes is emphasised by this technique, since the transferral of the thin film of paint leaves behind fragments which are in turn re-introduced within the canvas, albeit in distinct locations. This layering of paint constructs an impression of age, of worn-out surfaces, evoking history through the treatment of paint rather than necessarily through representation. 
     
    This relationship to time through surface treatment and the appropriation of historic patterns is already present in Eu só queria entender por que ele fez isso (I don’t know why he did this). An early work, it shows several elements that would become predominant in Milhazes’ later practice. A strong composition is constructed out of decorative patterns which present distinctive, yet evidently historic, sequences of graphic floral imagery.
     
    Milhazes brings together cultural traditions intrinsic to Brazil, whether from the crafts or from the fine arts, yet also acknowledges a debt to key figures of European modernism, particularly the work of Matisse.
     
    In juxtaposing these elements, Milhazes is in fact recalling the ideal of cultural cannibalism, expressed by the poet and polemicist Oswald de Andrade in his Anthropophagite Manifesto of 1928. This notion has characterised Brazilian modern art to this day and it is therefore not surprising that Milhazes, not yet the international star that she is today, held such a prominent place in the groundbreaking São Paulo Biennial of 1998, curated by Paulo Herkenhoff under the theme of ‘Antropofagia’ (in English, ‘Cannibalism’).
     
    Dr. Michael Asbury

  • Artist Bio

    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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7

Eu só queria entender por que ele fez isso (I just wanted to understand why he did that)

1989
Acrylic and lace on canvas.
181 x 173 cm (71 1/4 x 68 in).
Signed, titled and dated ‘B. Milhazes 1989 “Eu só queria entender por que ele fez isso” on the reverse.

Estimate
£250,000 - 350,000 ‡ ♠

sold for £361,250

BRIC

14 - 15 April 2011
London