First Major U.S. Survey of Work by Artist Beatriz Milhazes Opens at Pérez Art Museum Miami in September 2014

Featuring over 40 large-scale paintings, collages and prints, exhibition explores the artist’s distinct approach to painting.

Beatriz Milhazes, Chora Menino
Beatriz Milhazes, Chora menino, 1996. Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, Caracas and New York ©Beatriz Milhazes

MIAMI – April 1, 2014 –On September 19, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) will present the first major U.S. survey of works by Brazilian abstract artist Beatriz Milhazes. On view through January 11, 2015, Beatriz Milhazes: Jardim Botânico will feature over 40 large-scale paintings, collages, and screenprints from the past 25 years of her career. The exhibition will, for the first time, trace the development of her distinct painting style, which is characterized by her use of bold colors, the layering of geometric and decorative forms, and motifs from a broad range of art historical movements, including Colonial Baroque, European Modernism, and North American Pop Art. Jardim Botânico will feature works never before seen in the United States, as well as three new paintings made specifically for PAMM’s presentation. The exhibition highlights Milhazes’s one-of-a-kind artistic process in which she collages with paint to explore movement and materiality.

The exhibition’s title, Jardim Botânico, references both the neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, home to her studio, and the dichotomy in Milhazes’s work between structure and rational order and sensuality, expression, and emotion. Organized by PAMM Chief Curator Tobias Ostrander, the exhibition follows a loose chronological order, with sequential sections focused around formal investigations. The works flow from Milhazes’s fascination in the 1990s with carefully rendered lace, ruffles, and decorative roses and pearls to her interest in bold colors, stars, hearts, and diagonal lines through to her incorporation of horizontal and vertical stripes in her large-scale paintings of the 2000s. Her more recent works show an increased use of interlocking, pure geometric forms that reference early European Modernism.

“Milhazes’ practice has been largely unexamined in the United States, and this exhibition offers an exciting opportunity to bring her energetic and visually compelling paintings to new audiences. Jardim Botânico is also particularly resonant in our region, which is home to one of the largest populations of Brazilian-born Americans in the country,” said PAMM Director Thom Collins. “The exhibition connects the experience of art, architecture, and nature, and we are looking forward to sharing it with our community and those traveling to Miami.”  

Jardim Botânico exemplifies PAMM’s commitment to exploring work that reflects Miami’s cultural diversity and its location as a gateway to art and artists from around the world. Milhazes’s paintings, with their exuberant colors and decorative elements, parallel Miami’s tropical environment, art deco architecture, and vibrant atmosphere—bringing the experience of the city to PAMM’s galleries. Jardim Botânico is the first in a group of exhibitions that explore unique collage and transfer processes. PAMM will open exhibitions on the work of Miami-based artist Adler Guerrier and Canadian artist Geoffrey Farmer in October.  

Milhazes’s signature painting technique creates highly textured surfaces that give her paintings grit and physicality, which she contrasts with the use of bright colors and geometric forms. By painting individual figurative elements in acrylic onto clear plastic sheets, she is able to test their placement and layer them on the canvas—manipulating the elements as collage materials. The sheets are glued to the canvas one at a time, creating layers of “decals.”  As the glue dries, she rips each “decal” off to reveal the paint’s “back side,” with the image presented in reverse. This process removes some pieces of paint, giving her paintings a prematurely aged look and defying the expectation of a smooth canvas surface.

“The tension between order and emotive abstraction in Beatriz’s compositions invigorates her body of work, simultaneously engaging the viewer and the space,” said PAMM Curator Tobias Ostrander. “The scope of Jardim Botânico provides an opportunity to not only examine the arc of her oeuvre, but to explore how her investigations into decorative and geometric abstraction have inspired work by younger generations of artists. The exhibition emphasizes Beatriz’s important artistic contributions and highlights the continued relevance of her practice.”

Milhazes’s process emerged from a desire to reinvigorate painting, a seemingly static medium that was considered by many to be out of touch with contemporary life. An abstract painter, she is part of a generation of Brazilian artists who became known in the late 1980s, among them Daniel Senise and Adriana Varejao, for revitalizing painting through references to the medium’s history. Milhazes draws the basic motifs of her oeuvre from the history and culture of her homeland as well as from Western art history. Serving as sources of inspiration are the Brazilian movements of Tropicalismo and Modernismo, in which folkloric elements coalesce with influences from the Americas and Europe, as well as Henri Matisse, Piet Modrian, Sonia Delauney-Terk, and Bridget Riley. 

Highlights from the exhibition include:
  • Santo Antônio, Albuquerque, 1994: This work is one of Milhazes’s earliest on view in the exhibition, and reflects her interest in the Colonial Baroque through her incorporation of lace, roses, and pearl motifs.
  • O selvagem, 1999: O selvagem marks a shift in Milhazes’s art-historical experimentation to North American Pop Art, with her use of flowers, hearts, and flowing lines. The shapes and lines are less delicate and measured than those in her earlier work.
  • Nazareth das Farinhas, 2002: This was the first of Milhazes’s works to be featured in a U.S. museum exhibition, when it appeared in the Carnegie International. In many ways a midway point of the works on view in Jardim Botânico, it demonstrates a blending of delicate lace motifs and bolder, less intricate forms.
  • Pierrot e Colombia, 2009-10: Milhazes worked on this triptych for two years, and it is one of her few works that explore vertical patterning and movement so thoroughly.
  • Flores e Árvores, 2012-3: This marks a new direction in Milhazes’s career, as the layering becomes increasingly linear and delicate, creating optical effects that recall the work of several Latin American masters of geometric abstraction from the 1960s and 70s.  
Organization and Support

Beatriz Milhazes: Jardim Botânico is organized by Pérez Art Museum Miami Chief Curator Tobias Ostrander and presented by Itaú. Support is provided by Graff, and in-kind support is provided by Consulate General of Brazil in Miami.

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Graff Diamonds  Consulate Brazil in Miami

About the Artist

Born in 1960 in Rio de Janeiro, Beatriz Milhazes lives and works in the city. Known for her colorful, kaleidoscopic collages, prints, paintings, and installations, Milhazes is inspired by Latin American and European traditions. The reoccurring arabesque motifs present in her work are inspired by Brazilian lacework, carnival decoration, music, and Colonial baroque architecture. The balance of harmony and dissonance in her work references work by Tarsila do Amaral, Oswald de Andrade, Henri Matisse, Vassily Kandinsky, and Robert Delaunay. Milhazes has exhibited around the world, and her work can be found at the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sophia, Madrid, Spain; the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan; and the Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts.

About Other Upcoming Exhibitions at PAMM

On view at PAMM April 18 through August 17, 2014, Caribbean: Crossroads of the World will highlight over two centuries of rarely seen works in a variety of media, dating from after the Haitian Revolution to the present.  The exhibition uses an interdisciplinary approach to advance our understanding of the Caribbean and its artistic heritage and contemporary strategies. The Project Galleries will feature exhibitions by Simon Starling, Shahzia Sikander, and Leonor Antunes. From April 24 through July 20 Project Gallery: Simon Starling, recently acquired by the museum, Inverted Restrograde Theme, US (House for Songbird), is a large-scale installation from 2002 that traces the paradoxes of modernist architecture in the Caribbean. From May 6 through September 21, 2014 Project Gallery: Shahzia Sikander will feature Sikander’s video animation The Last Post, which addresses the complex relationship between East and West. The video does not have a linear narrative style, but instead focuses on an image of an 18th-century colonial merchant from the infamous East India Company, whose figure crashes into Indo-Persian imagery amid experimental music. Project Gallery: Leonor Antunes, on view from June 19 through January 18, 2015, will feature a large-scale site-specific installation that references the legacies of modernism, early 20th-century architecture, and responds to its environment in PAMM and Miami. 

About Pérez Art Museum Miami

Pérez Art Museum Miami, which opened in December 2013 in downtown Miami’s Museum Park, is focused on collecting and exhibiting modern and contemporary art that represents Miami’s cultural diversity, while providing progressive educational and community programming. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the cutting-edge facility will provide room to showcase growing collections, expanded exhibition space to bring more world-class exhibitions to Miami-Dade County and an educational complex. Pérez Art Museum Miami was originally founded as Center for Fine Arts, and was strictly an exhibiting organization with no collection of its own. In 1996, as part of an institution-wide reorganization, the museum was renamed Miami Art Museum and dedicated itself to collecting and exhibiting international art of the 20th and 21st centuries with a special emphasis on art of the Americas. In January 2011 work began on a cutting-edge building with generous spaces to showcase its art holdings and attract more top caliber exhibitions. The new facility will open in December 2013 as Pérez Art Museum Miami in recognition of a landmark leadership gift of now $40 million in cash and art.

Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. Support is provided by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners. Additional support is provided by the City of Miami. Pérez Art Museum Miami is an accessible facility. All contents ©Pérez Art Museum Miami. All rights reserved.