On the cover: Sonho Tropicale by Beatriz Milhazes
What can you tell us about the creation of Sonho Tropicale?
It is a piece I created for the Rio Azul show at the White Cube in London. My work is based on kind of a mathematical system, but it is also dream-like – these shapes don’t exist in the world. So each one is an interesting mix of something very systematic and something very free. It is your first show after the release of your monograph, which has over 280 paintings from across your career.
Did the book influence the new work?
Yes, the book was a turning point for me. It’s very strange to see your entire work laid out in print, from my first college show to now. But it’s not just my work, it’s my life. I remember where I was when I created every one of those pieces. So it’s kind of my biography. I’ve never really been an artist with distinct periods, it’s been more of a gradual chain reaction and you can’t really appreciate that at the time – you need perspective.
Your art fetches some of the highest prices of any Brazilian artist, how does that feel?
I don’t think anybody really knows how these things happen. The first time a piece of my work sold for over $1 million [O Mágico which sold for $1.1 million in 2003] was a huge moment, but then the doubt creeps in and suddenly you have something to live up to. But nobody can really control what people will pay – especially not me.
It must have changed things though…
The biggest impact wasn’t the money, but the freedom. Suddenly collectors and art galleries wanted to talk with me. I could engage with people who are changing the art world… For me as a South American female painter, in what is still a very male world, it was an important step. And maybe I was the first from Brazil to arrive there and I’m happy that it’s opened up a space for others.
You’ve spoken before about how the history of Brazilian art has given more influence to women than in Europe…
There’s no question that you can be a woman and be respected as an artist, it is the history of Brazil. I’m lucky because I grew up learning that we had strong female artists in our history. So it was very natural, that I could try to follow their lead…
Beatriz Milhazes’ Rio Azul show is hosted by London’s White Cube Gallery. The limited edition monograph Beatriz Milhazes by Hans Werner Holzwarth is published by Taschen at £650.
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