Beatriz Milhazes's luscious and vivacious São Cinco is a superlative example of her characteristic blend of Brazilian vitality and European Modernism. The central flower motif unfurls its golden leaves to reveal electric blue stigma surrounded deep purple stamens like the exotic blooms of Brazil's tropical rain forests. Milhaze's studio overlooks the Botanical Garden in Rio de Janeiro and the proximity of acres of luscious foliage is a clear influence on her bright and vibrant work.
The prominent use of shiny gold that dominates São Cinco is a recent development in her work. Inspired by the colourful wrappers of modern day confectionary, she is also attracted by the designs and ornate calligraphy in different languages which are printed on the side. This attraction to the everyday milieu of Brazilian life is the central theme which runs through much of her work. She also finds inspiration amongst the cheap floral fabrics found on local market stalls, as well as the colourful local crafts and jewellery produced by Brazil's many indigenous populations.
As well as looking to her native Brazil for inspiration, Milhazes appears to have been influenced by Modernist artists in Europe. The bold patterning and clear graphic definition of the individual elements seems to pay homage to the work of Fernand Léger and Robert Delaunay. These strong compositional elements have been a constant motif throughout her career and as such her work has become a source of inspiration for a new generation of artists. The artist sees herself as part of a world art community constantly in "dialogue" with contemporary artists such as Christopher Wool, Franz Ackermann, Philip Taaffe and Peter Halley. While their artistic styles, and life experiences, may be very different, Milhazes finds a shared interest in 'color, construction, fantasy, pop decorative art, and a kind of surrealism too' (B. Milhazes in an interview with Arto Lindsay, published in Parkett v. 85, 2009, p. 137).