Photos by Nicholas Calcott for Paris By Appointment Only™
Despite distance traveled or time lived abroad, an expatriate’s cultural roots are remarkably resilient. With the accumulated weight of new experiences and customs pushing them deeper underground, they become more organized, focusing their strength on their most distinctive features.
As any expat will tell you, these gnarly little buggers can sprout up out of nowhere. For Maria De Morais (aka Milu Cachat), a Portuguese artist who has lived in Paris for thirty years, her cultural heritage caught her by surprise, not in her subjects, but in the shapes of her paintings.
“Someone stopped by my studio and saw all of my paintings laid out on the ground and said ‘no doubt you are Portuguese, these look like azulejos,’” laughs De Morais while admiring the vibrant grid of colors at her feet. “I hadn’t realized it at first, but the paintings are perfect squares, just like the ceramic tiles that Portugal is famous for.”
Before she paints, De Morais thinks about the shape of the canvas that best suits her subject. Since she starting dreaming of flowers three years ago, she’s hasn’t been able to shake the simplicity and strength of the square.
“Sometimes I want to change subjects, but I feel like this one isn’t finished yet. Until my garden is complete, I will continue painting flowers.”
Her semi-abstract still lives of real and imagined flowers are absorbing and provocative when viewed on their own. But when placed side by side, they take on a decorative dimension, like a majestic mosaic of hand-painted tiles.
De Morais’ graphic sensibilities have been honed during nearly twenty years as a set decorator for the most influential interior publications in Europe (Maison Coté Sud, Wallpaper*, Elle Décoration Italy, France & Germany, to name a few). So it’s no surprise that her instinct for composition and color would find it’s way to her paintings, too.
“I like when there’s a sense of double vision,” says De Morais, whose flower variations often double as figures or even shadows and shapes in a room.
But for a full sensory overload, there’s nothing better than a visit to De Morais’ Parisian flat. You’ll enjoy some delicious tea and freshly baked scones surrounding by a creative overdose of sketches, albums, clippings, and knick-knacks culled from all corners of the world.
What better way to shop for art than visiting the space that inspires it?
Price: Paintings are €600-€3000 depending on size
Appointments: If you’re interested in Maria’s work, contact me to arrange a visit with the artist at her home atelier.