An abounding overflow of colour and life, Yogurt
is an effusive mixed-media collage by Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes. Internationally renowned for masterfully amalgamating stimuli from her native Brazil and reinterpretating the sensibilities of the European artistic elite, Milhazes employs a rich tapestry of imagery derived from the carnivals of Rio de Janeiro, tropical fauna and flora, folk art, traditional chitão fabric, jewellery, the colonial Baroque and everyday found objects. In Yogurt
the artist has arranged these forms in ways deeply redolent of a wide array of Modernist and Contemporary artists. With its overlapping planes of vegetal and humanly-wrought forms, the work suggests the Arcadian socialist ideal of William Morris in which the urbane and the natural come into fruitful union. Looping arabesques and scroll-like forms engender vibrant circles reminiscent of the Orphism of Robert Delaunay, and vertical, Barnett Newman-like zips stack up colourful circles recalling Damien Hirst’s Spot Paintings
. Greatly influenced by the Fauvism of Henri Matisse, as well as the mesmeric, mathematical forms within the Botanical Garden opposite her studio, Milhazes pays tribute to the arching lines of the French master by superimposing exuberant filigrees on her collage; by turns concealing and revealing a number of found cultural artefacts of urban life. Invoking spirals, flowers, ceramic plates and the targets of Jasper Johns, the hypnotic surface of Yogurt
exudes a pulsating energy that seems to marry the multifarious processes of painting, lacework and weaving. Moreover, Yogurt
literalises the unique transfer technique of painting that has come to define Milhazes’ works on canvas. Painting intricate patterns onto plastic sheets, she glues these images onto the canvas paint-side down; resulting in a flat surface with a deliberate lack of any painterly brushwork. In Yogurt
, however, Milhazes makes a collage on paper that confers to the work an extraordinarily architectural, hierarchical quality.
When Milhazes began her career in the 1980s, she joined a group of progressive Brazilian artists united by an eschewal of conceptual and constructivist aesthetics in favour of painting. Taking inspiration from Brazilian Modernism’s insistence on a uniquely Brazilian, anti-Colonial visual language, Milhazes searched for a style that communicated the forms intrinsic to Brazil in an abstract way. Milhazes realised, upon her first experience of Henri Matisse’s work in 1985, that rigorous painting and the use of ornamental forms were not mutually exclusive, and were in fact fruitful conjuncts. In her work, multifarious European influences are infused with a noticeably Brazilian register; the resultant aesthetic is one that balances diversity and uniformity.