Critics’ Picks

View of “Beatriz Milhazes: Jardim botânico” (Botanical Garden), 2014–15.

View of “Beatriz Milhazes: Jardim botânico” (Botanical Garden), 2014–15.

Miami

Beatriz Milhazes

Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)
1103 Biscayne Blvd.
September 19, 2014–January 11, 2015

Curated by Tobias Ostrander, “Jardim botânico” (Botanical Garden) is Beatriz Milhazes’s first major North American survey. It includes more than forty large-scale paintings from over the past twenty years that picture the Brazilian artist’s signature luscious compositions of flora and fauna. Milhazes’s unique transfer technique, wherein acrylic is applied to plastic sheets before they are glued to then peeled off the canvas, is most readily apparent in the show’s earliest work, Sem título (untitled), 1993. A lone, ornate frond, made up of intersecting shapes in yellow, aqua, and pink, abstracts nature’s anatomy, the tropical contour unfurling in an otherwise empty canvas. Though predominantly monochromatic, the work’s white ground is punctuated by specks of aqua peeking through, recalling the flaking walls of an old, repainted building, here a result of the layered, acrylic transfer.

Milhazes’s subsequent works increasingly incorporate the grid of city streets, inverting the upright ground to a horizontal expanse, as in Beijo (Kiss), 1995. Large blocks of gray, black, white, turquoise, and gold leaf support the circular, blossoming buds in the center of this painting, and a similar effect is achieved in the more organically populated Beleza pura (Pure Beauty), 2006. In Praga (Prague), 2003, the line gains greater primacy as the organizing structure within the painting, like spears that prop up its fluid and ovoid forms, while in Lampião (Lamp), 2013–14, alternating lines optically build the coils from within. In Milhazes’s transferred environments, geometry stands in for the associative effects of multidirectional globalization.