Masterpiece Stories

Masterpiece Story: Sonho Tropical by Beatriz Milhazes

James W Singer 7 April 2024 min Read

Sonho Tropical is a visual feast of abstract art infused with the passion for a Brazilian landscape. Beatriz Milhazes fuses European modernity with South American spirit to create a beacon for contemporary female artists. It is a masterpiece where hidden influences unravel their mysteries.

Beatriz Milhazes: Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK.

Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK.

Historical Context

Beatriz Milhazes is a woman artist from the Brazilian cultural capital of Rio de Janeiro. She studied social communications at the College Hélio Alonso and then design at the School of Visual Arts of Parque Lage. Milhazes later gained international recognition in the 1990s and is now considered a premier contemporary Brazilian artist. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid. Sonho Tropical is a contemporary masterpiece currently owned by the White Cube Gallery in London.

Beatriz Milhazes: Vicente de Paulo, Portrait of Beatriz Milhazes, 2013, digital photograph, Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions (AWARE), Paris, France.

Vicente de Paulo, Portrait of Beatriz Milhazes, 2013, digital photograph, Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions (AWARE), Paris, France.

General Composition

Sonho Tropical is a large acrylic on canvas image measuring 7 feet 11 inches wide by 8 feet 10 inches high (or 2.41 meters wide by 2.70 meters high). It is an abstract image filled with geometric shapes, strong lines, and solid colors. Concentric circles and radiating lines dominate the patterned surface. They add visual movement and dynamic interest to the composition.

Beatriz Milhazes: Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Painterly Technique

Unlike the majority of artists who work with acrylic paints, Beatriz Milhazes does not paint directly onto her canvas. Instead, she paints all of her abstract elements separately onto small plastic sheets. She then peels, cuts, and assembles the elements onto her canvas as if creating a collage. Milhazes states this technique allows her to retain the elements’ intense colors and crisp lines, which further allows her to create bold graphic patterns.

Beatriz Milhazes: Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Artistic Influences

The paintings of Beatriz Milhazes are a wonderful fusion of European Modernist style and Brazilian cultural heritage. Milhazes has stated that she is strongly influenced by the French creator Henri Matisse, the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, and the Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral. In Sonho Tropical and many other works, Milhazes uses the bold colors of Matisse, the pure geometry of Mondrian, and the nationalistic expression of do Amaral.

Beatriz Milhazes: Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Therefore, Milhazes is not merely copying and reproducing from previous masters, but is collecting elements she admires and building upon them to create her own signature style of European-Brazilian modernity.

Beatriz Milhazes: Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Marvelous City

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America. It is nicknamed the “Marvelous City” for its Copacabana beach, Christ the Redeemer statue, and the Carnaval. Beatriz Milhazes depicts the spirited ambiance of Rio de Janeiro through Sonho Tropical. It captures the city’s colorful atmosphere with its tropical flowers, Baroque colonial architecture, and famed vibrant textiles.

Beatriz Milhazes: Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

The tropical flowers are reflected in the floral designs of radiating lines. The lines alternate in color and imply their petals and foliage.

Beatriz Milhazes: Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

The Baroque colonial architecture is seen in the complex and ornate circular medallions. Their complexity is like the intricacy of the famed 17th-century buildings lining the streets. They are remnants of the past adding a rich historical legacy.

Beatriz Milhazes: Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

The vibrant textiles are implied with the linear patterns especially, seen in the upper right corner. They alternate like webbing on a handloom.

Beatriz Milhazes: Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Creative Legacy

Sonho Tropical is a masterpiece of contemporary Brazilian art. It combines the legacy of European Modernism with the vibrancy of Rio de Janeiro. It reaffirms the creative legacy of Brazilian women artists on the international stage. It is bold. It is blissful. It is beautiful. It is Beatriz Milhazes.

Beatriz Milhazes: Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Beatriz Milhazes, Sonho Tropical, 2017, acrylic on canvas, White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Bibliography

1.

Beach (Praia).” Collection. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA. Retrieved 25 February 2023.

2.

Beatriz Milhazes.” Artists. Museum of Modern Art, New York City, USA. Retrieved 25 February 2023.

3.

Sonho Tropical.” Collection. White Cube Gallery, London, UK. Retrieved 25 February 2023.

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