A new commission for the Tate Modern restaurant, Guanabara, by Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes, will be unveiled on Friday 12 August. This is the third commission for the restaurant on Level 7, following work by Fiona Rae in 2002 and Hamish Fulton in 2000.
This site-specific piece comprises coloured vinyl applied directly to the walls. Combining geometric and organic motifs, the composition creates a visual dialogue with the spectacular views of London from the restaurant and the natural light that floods in through the full-length windows. The title of the work refers to Guanabara Bay, one of the most celebrated views in Rio de Janeiro. Although not intended as a representation of this landscape, the saturated colours and vivid patterns recall the popular imagery of Brazil and the use of vibrant yellow evokes the intensity of bright sunlight.
Milhazes’s paintings are colourful and exuberant and involve complex techniques and skilful manipulation of composition. Many of the elements are painted directly onto plastic sheeting and, once dry, are carefully positioned on the canvas and glued in place. By building up layers of opaque and translucent paint, Milhazes presents an exhilarating fusion of images inspired by sources as diverse as folk art, embroidery, carnival imagery, geometry, botany, music and modernist abstraction.
Milhazes’s works feature an abundance of natural forms such as flowers and plants, yet the spirit of the city is ever present. Working from her studio close to the Botanical Gardens in Rio, she combines the geometric lines of garden design with the organic arabesques of the foliage. The music of Brazil also seems to suffuse Milhazes’s paintings and their geometric patterns and vibrant colour echo the syncopated rhythms of the bossanova, a Brazilian dance.
Commenting on the commission, the artist said: ‘It is interesting for me to take on a project where I need to be led by the architecture of the site. Another intriguing aspect is the way that the public interacts with the work. Experimenting with different scale and materials allows me to think differently about my work and to pursue alternative directions.’
Milhazes was born in 1960 in Rio de Janeiro, where she still lives and works. Renowned for her vibrant paintings and intricate collages and prints, she has exhibited world-wide. She represented Brazil at the fiftieth Venice Biennale in 2003.
Tate Modern is very grateful to Dasha and William Shenkman for their continued support of the Level 7 restaurant commission. Beatriz Milhazes is the third artist to be invited to create a new work for the restaurant area in memory of their mother, Belle Shenkman (1928-1995) a passionate patron and promoter of the arts.
See some images of Guanabara in the Tate Modern restaurant