The vibrantly kaleidoscopic collages, prints, paintings and installations of Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes are defined by a certain horror vacui—an elaborate, embellished latticework of pigment and form that is dizzyingly seductive. Inspired by her native city of Rio, her compositions take on local hues, textures, and tones, mapping the strong blue of the sea and the fecund green of the city’s rich flora onto the structured shimmering grids of cosmopolitan industry.
Working from a studio sited next to the city’s botanical gardens, Milhazes has expressed the importance of being surrounded and consumed, overwhelmed even, by nature—and the surfaces of her artworks are shaped by a distinctly decorative emphasis. Organized to coincide with her major retrospective exhibition, “Jardim Botânico,”at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, Durham Press will present a selection of her print works at their booth at Art Miami this December, featuring works from 2003 and two new editions. Water Dreaming and Snake Dreaming, both 2013, are constructed from a 20-piece woodblock and 13 layers of silkscreen, and their central flower motif was derived from a suite of drawings the artist describes as a “spontaneous dialogue” between African tribal art and Op Art from the 1960s.
Indeed, much like her paintings, the artist’s prints demonstrate her embrace of collage as an aesthetic as well as, occasionally, a technique. Comprised of distinct, yet harmonious parts—a patchwork quilt of color and texture—each of her on-paper compositions incorporates a variety of arabesque motifs inspired by her Brazilian culture, as well as ceramics, lacework, carnival decoration, music, and Colonial Baroque architecture. Consistently, the onslaught of visual information in her compositions is defined by a compelling conflict between contrasting colors and shapes. This formal harmony keeps the eye constantly in motion, and imbues her work with a sense of vital movement that echoes its frenetic forms and florid textures.