Didem Doğan

Beatriz Milhaez: A Graphic Journey, Paraty

I have seen the paintings of Beatrix Milhaez for the first time at the Modern Art Malba Museum in Buenos Aires. The family of the painter with Rio origins was from Paraty: I came across this exhibition which is as small as this town. It is called A Graphic Journey. Although the paintings of the artists known in the global art circles are defined as abstract, they are like the tropical paintings of this tropical country: colorful, vivid circles multiplied in different colors and sizes (Are we supposed to infer that this country only produces natural designs like the circular building designs of the celebrated Brazilian architect Niemeyer?), shapes which could be considered as arabesque…You feel a childish cheerfulness when the feeling of expansion aroused by big paintings was boosted by the vivid colors which welcome you. Milhaez grew up in Rio during the dictatorial regime and her mother was an art historian. Milhaez studied journalism, but learned painting at evening classes. It is a platitude that she is influenced by Henri Matisse who was French just like the first love of Milhaez. She was first included in the 80’s School, and then the Tropicalismo School in Brazil. The moment of ‘discovery’ whereby an artist forms an individual style, which is also called the ‘artist eureka,’ came to her with a technical detail: after painting most of her figures in acrylic paint on sheets of transparent plastic, she considers different possibilities of placement and position before gluing them to the canvas. The carnivals and grotesque parades of Rio, her home town, influenced her a lot, but just like every artist who established its mastery, she does not hesitate to claim that she went beyond them. She says: “Yes, the parades are so crazy with its themes and costumes, but all of that are also very far off my painting, my workshop, and my daily life. I have never engaged with samba and carnival. I am a conceptual carnivalesque.”