This is the largest exhibition dedicated to the work of Beatriz Milhazes (Rio de Janeiro, 1960), a central artist in Brazilian contemporary art, in the panorama of international painting, and in the recent history of abstraction. Milhazes works with a complex repertoire of images associated with different motifs, origins, and sources, mainly in painting, printmaking, and collage, but also in drawing, sculpture, artist’s books, and textiles, among other media. Oscillating between abstraction and figuration, geometry and free form, her compositions are intricate, dense, multi-colored, and literally full of layers — of colors, paints, papers, and meanings. Each form emerges and develops from a specific universe, and may last for decades in the artist’s repertoire, transform over the years, or mark a certain period. Milhazes’ sources are diverse and plural: from modernism to the baroque, from so-called arte popular to pop culture, from fashion to jewelry, from the very history of art to nature, from architecture to abstraction, encompassing multiple references, from Tarsila do Amaral (1886-1973) and Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979) to Bridget Riley and Ione Saldanha (1919-2001), among many others.
The exhibition takes its title from the avenue where the two institutions that co-organize the project are located: Itaú Cultural, where collages and prints are displayed, and MASP, where paintings, sculptures, drawings, books, documents, and a tapestry are displayed. Avenida Paulista is also the title of a painting made especially for the occasion and gifted by the artist to MASP, displayed on the second floor, where the museum’s collection is located, as well as Milhazes’ sculpture, Marola. The exhibition also occupies the mezzanine and the gallery of the first sublevel, where one finds small-scale paintings, drawings, and three works with similar motifs that demonstrate how the artist travels through different media, in addition to a vitrine with documents, artist’s books, and catalogs. On the second sublevel, large-scale paintings are exhibited on display structures that are an unfolding of the radical glass easels designed by Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992) for MASP’s collection. The paintings are organized in an inverse chronology — from the most recent to the oldest, although not in a rigid manner. In the vitrines of the second sublevel, works produced during Milhazes’ 2016 and 2019 workshops with children at MASP are exhibited. And hanging from the ceiling, a new version of the sculpture Gamboa pours towards the center of the space, creating an environment for the presentations by Márcia Milhazes Companhia de Dança. Since the 1990s, Beatriz has developed scenography and projects in collaboration with her sister, the choreographer Márcia, configuring an important aspect of her trajectory, underlined by this exhibition, which after all is part of a year dedicated to the Histories of dance at the museum (in 2020). With the pandemic, the presentations were scheduled for 2021 (dates to be announced).
The exhibition includes more than 170 works made since 1989, a turning point in Milhazes’ career. It was in that year that she developed the technique she calls monotransfer, in which she paints on a sheet of transparent plastic and then decals or transfers the painted and dry element to the canvas (one of these sheets is exhibited in the vitrine in the first sublevel gallery). This is a truly unique opportunity to discover the diverse, complex, multifaceted, and singular work of Beatriz Milhazes, one of the most significant artists on the Brazilian and international scenes in the 21st century.
CURATED BY Adriano Pedrosa, Artistic Director, MASP; Amanda Carneiro, Assistent-Curator, MASP; Ivo Mesquita, Independent Curator.