Beatriz Milhazes | Purple Dahlia - Mother's Day

2015 – 2016

    Purple Dahlia and Mother's Day, two editions proofed in tandem with each other at Durham Press, are drastically different in size: the monumental Purple Dahlia stands at 60 ¼ x 78 ¾ inches, while the narrow Mother's Day at 51 7/8 x 17 inches holds its own with its dense, intricate lines and addition of gold leaf. Purple Dahlia is an edition of thirty printed on handmade Hiromi DHM-11 Triple Thick paper, and Mother's Day an edition of forty on Saunders 425gsm.


    Milhazes usually arrives at Durham Press with sketches to start the proofing process, though with this visit she came with no plans or materials, instead deciding to only work from components left behind from her previous prints at the Press. Numerous paper cut outs, hand painted films, and screenprint rubyliths from her past print projects were used to build the final composition element by element, layer by layer. Purple Dahlia showcases Milhazes' ability of intense, thoughtful decision making, reacting to how each new element interacts with its surroundings, working with the Press to create a cohesive and harmonious image.


    While the title references a flower, the geometric motifs of Purple Dahlia take precedence over the work's botanical imagery. Circles of various sizes float in the center of the print, then recede from view amid the parallel horizontal lines that appear throughout the paper. The lines ripple and flow across the print, recalling bead-like chains or rippling water. Visually dense with nearly its entire surface covered in different patterns or shapes, Purple Dahlia is also able to retain a feeling of lightness. Just like the process in which it was made, the print is built layer upon layer - semi-transparent screenprint inks sit on top of rich woodblock components, punctuated by opaque shapes and motifs. This density maintains a sense of breathing room, more akin to wildflowers in a breezy field than a congested city street.


    Like Purple Dahlia, Mother's Day tightly packs layers of configured lines resembling cut-out strings of pearls or branches of leaves as well as the negatives or trimmings of each shape. The two editions are inherently linked as Mother's Day began as a collage made by Milhazes while proofing Purple Dahlia. Using proofs and materials from previous projects, Milhazes organically built a composition much as she had done on a larger scale for Purple Dahlia, though in this print including gold leaf alongside its rich colors. Its narrow, vertical format recalls her concurrent sculptural work made at Durham Press, Marola, Mariola, and Marilola, which hangs from the ceiling and reaches down to the floor. This smaller scale allows Milhazes to add a density and vibrancy that would become overwhelming at the scale of Purple Dahlia. Titled because it was signed on Mother's Day, the print seems to suit its name as it remains at an intimate scale, allowing the viewer to feel a more personal connection.