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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more BIDDING FOR A GREENER FUTURE: PROPERTY SOLD TO BENEFIT CLIENTEARTH

Cebola Roxa

Cebola Roxa
signed, titled and dated ‘B Milhazes “Cebola Roxa” 2020’ (on the reverse)
acrylic and graphite on canvas
75 x 71 1/4in. (190.7 x 180.9cm.)
Executed in 2020
Donated by the artist and White Cube.
Sao Paolo, Museu de Arte de São Paolo, Beatriz Milhazes: Avenida Paulista, 2020-2021, pp. 310 and 329, no. 256 (illustrated in colour, p. 310).
Shanghai, Long Museum West Bund, Beatriz Milhazes: Ballet em Diagonais, 2021.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. Please note that at our discretion some lots may be moved immediately after the sale to our storage facility at Momart Logistics Warehouse: Units 9-12, E10 Enterprise Park, Argall Way, Leyton, London E10 7DQ. At King Street lots are available for collection on any weekday, 9.00 am to 4.30 pm. Collection from Momart is strictly by appointment only. We advise that you inform the sale administrator at least 48 hours in advance of collection so that they can arrange with Momart. However, if you need to contact Momart directly: Tel: +44 (0)20 7426 3000 email: This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

Brought to you by

Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Director, Senior Specialist

Lot Essay

Executed in 2020, Cebola Roxa has been generously donated by Beatriz Milhazes and White Cube as the part of the ongoing sale series Artists for ClientEarth: a landmark new collaborative initiative designed to propel the art world in the fight against climate change. ClientEarth approach the climate crisis in a systemic and unique way: challenging the worst-offending industries, advising governments on policy, and working globally to safeguard citizens’ access to the laws that defend them. The Gallery Climate Coalition and Christie’s have come together with ClientEarth to raise money, awareness and support from the art world for this essential work through the Artists for ClientEarth initiative.

The sale of Milhazes’ Cebola Roxa follows works by Antony Gormley, Cecily Brown, Rashid Johnson and Xie Nanxing auctioned at Christie’s London, New York and Hong Kong throughout 2021 and 2022. A parallel programme of talks and education has provided collectors and art-world professionals access to the vital work that ClientEarth undertakes to create systemic change to protect the planet.

Prominently exhibited since its creation, Cebola Roxa was unveiled as part of Milhazes’ solo show at the Museu de Arte de São Paolo in 2020, and subsequently included in Chinese debut at the Long Museum, Shanghai. Its surface is a kaleidoscope of colour and pattern: leaf-like forms and floral motifs unfurl against a backdrop of spiralling patterns and textures, with stripes, daisies, dots and curves jostling with stark geometric colour fields. ClientEarth’s mission resonates strongly with Milhazes’ practice, which is fuelled by a deep love of nature. From her luscious plant-filled studio overlooking the botanic gardens in her native Rio de Janeiro, she weaves hypnotic abstract visions that combine the influence of Brazilian art and culture with ideas gleaned from her encounters with twentieth-century European art. Here, these sources come together in an image of fecundity and life, every inch of the canvas alive with new growth.

As a student in Rio in the 1980s, Milhazes absorbed the dynamic spirit of the Geração Oitenta (‘80s Generation’) movement, which—amid the rise of Minimalism and Conceptualism—proposed a return to painting. As Neo-Expressionism swept Europe and America, Milhazes threw herself into questions of colour, form and texture, delighting in the medium’s optical possibilities. In 1985, she undertook her first trip to Europe, where she came face to face with movements such as Fauvism, Op Art and others which had grappled with similar concerns. Her first encounter with the work of Henri Matisse, she recalls, was particularly transformative: ‘it changed everything,’ she explained. ‘I’d never seen any of the modern painters live. I hadn’t seen the real pressure, the scale’ (B. Milhazes, quoted in C. Kino, ‘Landscape Artist Roberto Burle Marx’s Lasting Influence’, Wall Street Journal Magazine, 28 April 2016). The present work’s geometric formations, meanwhile, vividly conjure the work of Bridget Riley—another artist whom Milhazes greatly admired—pulling the eye in multiple directions at once.

While the chaos and colour of the Rio carnival has often inspired Milhazes, her dense compositions are born of a quiet, intricate process. The artist begins by mentally mapping out her motifs in front of a blank canvas: ‘the white canvas is so attractive’, she explains. ‘At this point, one may make everything and anything. The canvas is a whole new world opening up’ (B. Milhazes, quoted in conversation with K. White, Artnet News, 11 April 2022). Then, often working in total silence, she begins to paint her motifs onto sheets of plastic, which are left to dry and peeled off before being transferred to canvas. The process yields a saturated, almost print-like finish which simultaneously bears the scars of its own making, with moments of inconsistency creating a palpable sense of depth and texture. In this sense, much like the onion skin to which the work’s title refers, Cebola Roxa seems composed of infinite layers, each waiting to be unfurled.

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