Beatriz Milhazes' A Montanha, O Gato, O Cachorro, e O Principe explodes with an exuberant energy, various colours and forms jostling against and on top of one another in a vibrant contemporary reincarnation of the Baroque. Executed in 1997, the extraordinary topography of this painting thrives with joyous juxtapositions of colour which are heightened by the almost tactile, sensual contrast between the matt and gloss tones. This picture presents the viewer with a kaleidoscopic accumulation of circles, mandalas, stripes and curlicues, some of them anchored in geometry, some revealing the traces of lace-like stencil and some rooted in figuration. Indeed, in several areas of this painting the forms appear to show flowers, perhaps hinting at the natural abundance that characterises so much of the artist's native Brazil. This pulsating picture encapsulates and indeed celebrates excess, the dancing shapes and colours brightening the space they occupy.
As well as its aesthetic impact, A Montanha, O Gato, O Cachorro, e O Principe is a painting about painting. Milhazes creates her works by beginning with a background onto which she applies paint, transferring it from surfaces of glass and plastic. This monotype-like process is repeated, the artist reacting each time to the new appearance of the work, allowing the gradual accretion of the layers of the painting. The earlier areas still peek through, meaning that A Montanha, O Gato, O Cachorro, e O Principe has become a palimpsest-like chronicle of its own execution.
As well as looking to Brazil and Latin America for inspiration, Milhazes appears to have been influenced by Modernist artists in Europe. The energy and rhythm of A Montanha, O Gato, O Cachorro, e O Principe seem to owe something to Fernand Léger and the Orphism of Robert Delaunay, but these influences have been lent a new, contemporary energy, an electricity. The floral elements hint at this work being a still life, yet it has exploded out of the old traditions in terms both of representation and technique in a new form that is at once forceful and fun.