Beatriz Milhazes

Banho de Rio


Not on display

Beatriz Milhazes born 1960
Original title
River Bath
Acrylic paint on canvas
Support: 2802 × 3002 mm
Presented by Ivor Braka, White Cube Ltd and an anonymous donor 2019


Banho de Rio (River Bath) 2017 is a large-scale painting in acrylic on canvas composed from different coloured geometric shapes that are arranged in overlapping formations along a central vertical axis decorated with a floral motif. Horizontal stripes in ochre, grey and white are interrupted at the centre by a vertical strip of white, grey and ochre rectangles. Overlapping oval shapes cascade across these horizontal lines. Each oval is filled with black and white waves and the intersections of the ovals with patterns of orange and black vertical lines. Moving toward the centre of the composition are another set of oval shapes in either orange and black or purple and orange stripes, followed by petal-like shapes drawn out in black wave-like lines. In the central column of the composition, placed atop of this array of forms and colours, are a series of floral motifs that draw together a wider range of colours including pink, lime green, pale blue and orange. The combination of these different elements creates a sense of rhythm and movement within a given structure.

The painting comes from a set of six canvases that were originally presented in Milhazes’ exhibition Rio Azul (‘Blue River’ in Portuguese) at White Cube gallery in London in 2018. The exhibition title referenced an important Mayan site in Guatemala, with the artist stating that the motif of the river fascinated her because ‘in our imagination, rivers are blue, but they can also be any other colour depending on the light. There’s also something magical about rivers because they support life.’ (Quoted in Ong 2018, accessed 23 January 2019.) While a number of her works combine floral motifs and geometric forms, in Banho de Rio Milhazes additionally started to consider movement, fragmented circles and the rotation of forms in space.

Milhazes used her signature technique to create this work, a process she calls ‘mono-transfer’ that involves painting several different transparent sheets of plastic which she then arranges across the canvas. When she is happy with the composition, each piece is glued into place and left to dry. As she peels off the plastic backing, layers of paint are left behind to create a type of painting collage that brings together many different moments and painting techniques in what the artist describes as using ‘freedom with order’ (quoted in ‘Interview with Beatriz Milhazes by Leanne Sacramone’, in Beatriz Milhazes, exhibition catalogue, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris 2009, p.14).

Further reading
Adriano Pedrosa, ‘Reviews: Beatriz Milhazes’, Frieze, May 1998,, accessed 23 January 2019.
‘Interview with Beatriz Milhazes’, RES Magazine, May 2008,, accessed 23 January 2019.
Amandas Ong, ‘“Every work I create is a mathematical dream” – An Interview with Beatriz Milhazes’, Apollo, 24 April 2018,, accessed 23 January 2019.

Fiontán Moran
January 2018

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