Plinth writer Emily Watkins asks Milhazes about 'Love and Peace', and her artistic process.
For your Plinth Ikon 50 edition, you’ve created a ceramic platter. Where did the inspiration for the design come from?
When Plinth contacted me to develop a special edition for Ikon Gallery’s 50th anniversary, I immediately thought of using a detail of one of the paintings that I exhibited there in my survey show “Beatriz Milhazes”, 2001. The painting titled “Peace and Love” was the one selected. It is a painting that has a strong center with different layers using rings of dots and purple flowers all surrounded by white rose buds and the symbol of “Peace and Love” in the center, finalising the composition. I thought it would be appropriate because it’s a painting very representative of my work, and the symbol of peace is something the world needs to be reminded of considering current events.
I thought 'Peace and Love' would be appropriate because it’s a painting very representative of my work, and the symbol of peace is something the world needs to be reminded of considering current events.
Have you ever worked with ceramics before? What made you chose that medium for your work, ‘Love and Peace’?
I have never used ceramic for objects - this was my first time! Personally, though, it’s a material I love and have at home. I have worked with ceramics for permanent public art projects.I did a tile floor for the Fondation Beyeler collection in Basel, and two big murals for Oceana, Miami. It’s a material that maintains the the hand-made aspects of the artist’s process, and has a long history in decorative art.
How much does each painting/sculpture follow on from the last? Do you consider them a series, or is each unique and separate?
I do not work with series. Each time I return to painting, for example, I introduce new elements to the existing ones that develop a "chain reaction" that marks a new point in the evolution of the work. My work is very much about process – an evolutionary process.
Painting always "pulls" more energy from me. After finishing a group of paintings, I always have to make pauses in my pictorial process and dedicate myself to other languages and mediums. What is important, and turns into a very rich process, is the exchange between my pieces. As the collage, screenprint, site-specific, public work and sculpture have become a strong presence in my studio practice, they have ultimately created a definite dialogue with painting. I work with each of them separately, each one in their own time and necessary order.
The artist will always have a different relationship with their own works to that of the art world. Each work has its own life and story and I tend to change my opinions about my work as time passes.
Are you ever surprised by which specific works of yours get picked up by the art world, or do they tend to be your favorites, too?
The artist will always have a different relationship with their own works to that of the art world. Each work has its own life and story and I tend to change my opinions about my work as time passes. I feel that I will never have enough distance from the works I create to judge them clearly.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m concentrating on finalising a site-specific piece for a project at the Jewish Museum, NY, as part of the Burle Marx retrospective. After that, I have two permanent public projects for buildings to develop. When I finish the drawings for these projects, I’ll go back to painting. I have a show in Paris at Max Hetzler Gallery in autumn, where I’ll show paintings and one sculpture.