Maresias, 2002/2003
Beatriz Milhazes

Photo: Michael Strasser / TBA21
Photo: Michael Strasser / TBA21, detail

Acrylic on canvas
300 x 267 x 3.5 cm

Beatriz Milhazes’s paintings are seductive, ravishing, and deceptive, full of layers and surprises. Dedicated to the abundant vitality of flowers, their delicate swirls and shapes, the paintings also revel in the potency and symbolism of decorative patterning. Exploring the contact points between popular Brazilian motifs—from carnival-inspired imagery to tropical flora and fauna—and Western modernism, Milhazes’s references often seem limitless. The spirit of hedonism of the Tropicalist movement; Henri Matisse and Sonia Delaunay’s use of color; Emilio Pucci’s fabric patterns; the cheap, colorful Brazilian chitão fabric; and abstract geometry have all provided her with inspiration for the rich and complex repertoire of images, forms, and colors she is using in her work. She calls her style of abstraction “chromatic free geometry” and it follows a layered process: first, Milhazes paints an intense colored design onto a transparent sheet, then glues this sheet to the canvas, and later proceeds to carefully peel it off. This process is repeated several times, resulting in a collage-like surface that displays no visible brushstroke.
In Maresias, the artist succeeds in transposing onto the canvas the natural totipotency of flowers, characterized by their ability to differentiate into an unlimited number of types and shapes. Her flowers multiply through variation, either as naturalistic and abstract interpretations or as subtle graphic silhouettes. The swirls and arabesques contribute to the vibrant composition’s optical movement and depth, and the stripes, squares, and rectangles serve as a supportive background, like a flower bed. The pretty maresia is a small wildflower native to the Mediterranean basin.


Solo show: Beatriz Milhazes
Venue: Turner Contemporary, Margate
May 27, 2023 - September 10, 2023


Group exhibition: Abundant Futures
Venue: C3A Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía, Córdoba  
Curator: Daniela Zyman
April 1, 2022 - March 5, 2023
Born in Río de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1960. Lives in Río de Janeiro.