Milhazes's paintings are saturated with colour and loaded with designs loosely derived from flora and fauna motifs. Her sources range from native Brazilian popular culture and baroque religious art of the Americas to geometric abstraction and Op Art. She occupies a unique position between Western and Latin American traditions.
Milhazes uses a technique similar to monotype or collage in her paintings where she builds up figurative elements gradually. Colour or ground is applied directly to the canvas with a brush while motifs are painted onto sheets of plastic which are later pressed onto the primed canvas, transferring the images. The accretion of paint results in a surface texture where some overlapping forms are fully present, while other earlier forms are partially obscured. The inherent imperfection of this process, in which images do not always transfer evenly or smoothly, simultaneously creates the impression of décollage and of images revealed when others are peeled away, in places exposing the under-drawing beneath.
Recently, Milhazes has reintroduced collage into her repertoire and is attracted to the shiny, glittery surface of modern-day confectionary packaging. She is particularly drawn to chocolate wrappings which she incorporates in her work. The size and texture of these products in part determines the composition of each collage. Furthermore, the ornate calligraphy of the text on the wrappers, visible in may different languages, adds another conceptual and linguistic dimension to her work.
Milhazes has titled her show at Stephen Friedman Gallery Joá, the name of a beach in Rio de Janeiro. The collages and paintings in the exhibition embrace her extensive artistic ancestry and allude to the tropical milieu of Brazil and the music and dance that epitomize the city and history of Rio de Janeiro.
Milhazes has exhibited widely all over the world. In 2004 Milhazes had a solo exhibition at Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan. In the same year, Milhazes was commissioned to make a work for the façade of Selfridges Manchester Exchange Store. In 2003 Milhazes had a solo exhibition at Domaine de Kerguehennec-Centre d'Art Contemporain, Bignan, France. In the same year Milhazes represented Brazil in the Venice Biennale at the Brazilian pavilion. Recent group exhibitions include São Paulo Biennale, São Paulo, Brazil in 2004 and 2002 and Urgent Painting, Musee d'Art Moderne de La Ville de Paris, Paris in 2002. This year, Milhazes was selected for a special commission at Tate Modern Restaurant which will be on view through 2007. She has also recently completed an ambitious project at Gloucester Road underground station which was commissioned by Platform for Art. The project will run until through May 2006.