Beatriz Milhazes' paintings play with notions of ornamentation and decoration. Her vividly coloured canvases contain a multitude of shapes and curves including frills, waves, precious stones, eyes, suns and stars. These paintings are intricately constructed and recall doilies and antique embroideries. Milhazes appropriates figurative and abstract elements from local flora and fauna, folk art and craft, fashion, jewellery and the colonial baroque.
Milhazes has developed her own unique way of working. First she paints motifs and prototypes onto plastic or glass surfaces. Once dry, she peels off the shapes and then little by little affixes them to the canvas, superimposing images and colours into elegant compositions. As the process unfolds and layers are applied successively, like one skin over another, Milhazes makes changes and corrections, altering and erasing where appropriate.
Beatriz Milhazes' paintings are loaded with symbols, historical references and allusions to local Brazilian popular culture. Their excessiveness and layered translucence recall and celebrate the bygone glamour of so many South American cities.
Beatriz Milhazes has participated in numerous international exhibitions. Recent exhibitions include: Gravuras at Paço Imperial in Rio de Janeiro; the XXIV Bienal Internacional de São Paulo, Brazil; the 1998 Sydney Biennale, Australia; Decorative Strategies at Bard College, New York; Abstract Painting, Once Removed, Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; Carnegie International ‘95, Pittsburgh, PA; and Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany.