5 Works of Art: The Story ofPaula Rego

5 Obras de Arte: A História de Paula Rego

Who is itPaula Rego?
Paula Regoportrays stories of his dysfunctional family relationships, political systems (such as that of António de Oliveira Salazar from Portugal) and social structures, in painting in a brutal, sober and powerful way. Women and animals gain power in his deeply expressive and ambiguous works. From abstractionism to conceptualism, his pieces are part of a figurative field of their own: «the beautiful grotesque». In surreal compositions with a cruelty - both subtle and explicit - the Portuguese artist demonstrates her own imagination and the brutality of the events of her life. A Luso-British visual artist who is particularly known for her storybook-based paintings and prints. the style ofPaula Regoevolved from abstract to representative, and preferred pastels over oils for much of his career.Paula Regostudied at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London and was an exhibiting member of the London Group, along with David Hockney and Frank Auerbach. She was the first artist-in-residence at the National Gallery in London. Discover five iconic works from the career ofPaula Rego.

1. The Family, 1988
In the painting "The Family" the absent father and husband return to the painting, to be, soon after, grabbed by their daughter and wife. As usual in the paintings ofPaula Rego, the narrative clues are ambiguous, raising several questions: Are the mother and daughter helping the man or hurting him? Who is the child in the window? Could it be that the clues are in the Portuguese altarpiece that contains Saint John and, next to it, Saint George slaying the dragon? Or, just below, in the illustration of the fable of the stork and the fox? Is man doomed like the dragon, or will he rise, like the fox, and then devour the stork? We can consider that this work evokes gender equality, due to the way in whichPaula Regorepresents the passive man who contrasts with the feminine action. On the other hand, icons are represented that indicate the presence of domestic violence. In this picture we can see in the foreground, on the left side, a table partially covered by a red cloth, which also contains a vase and a red flower, part of which hangs out of the table. In the centered background, we see three figures, two female and one male, the latter is sitting at the foot of the bed and the two women are taking care of him. In a third plane, we can see a fourth figure that observes the scene, it is a very illuminated figure standing next to the open window, in the farthest plane we see a closet with an oratory.Paula Regooften represents the male figure as useless, also in this painting, the male figure who should represent the father, is seated, with his legs apart, passive, letting the women take care of him. The figure in front of him, between the legs of the male figure, represents the mother, because of her older and closed appearance, she holds the father's pants. The figure behind the father will be the eldest daughter, although she has a bow in her hair, it is noted that she is not as old as the girl next to the window. The daughter is kneeling on the bed allowing her to hold her hand and help her father with the sleeve, the girl by the window directs her gaze to the observer, avoiding looking at the action. The oratory in the back of the room takes us into the world of domestic violence. In this oratory we see a female image that raises her gaze to the sky in prayer and at her feet we see a male and young figure fighting an animalistic form. This last figure holding a tree branch up indicating that it will hit the figure below is a message of violence and provokes the observer who feels provoked but also passive.

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2. The Dance, 1988
In intense blues and grays, this is a painting with a ghostly light that suggests a dreamlike episode or a surrealist fantasy. The dancers are short and stocky, with movements and costumes that refer to Portuguese folk traditions of the 1950s. In the background, a sinister construction, similar to a fortress, on a rocky outcrop that ends up increasing the disturbing mood of the painting. the works ofPaula Regothey are based on folk or fairy tales and on ambiguous and uncomfortable images linked to their childhood memories. With epic dimensions, this painting with autobiographical references, represents the cycle of female life, from childhood to sexual maturity, motherhood to old age. The composition is similar to the work "The Dance of Life", by Norwegian surrealist painter Edvard Munch, which also depicts a group of people dancing in the moonlight, by the sea, with a figure symbolizing innocence on the left.
“A Dança” is one of the works in whichPaula Regosays goodbye to her husband, Victor Willing. This one is represented in the painting as the first man to appear, on the left, dancing with another woman. The scene takes place in Ericeira and also evokes the times that the family lived there. Vic Willing's disease, with a predictable outcome, is the basis of several works byPaula Rego, from the series “Mulher dog” to “The family” (1988), through “Departure” (1988) and “A dance” (1988), moving farewells.

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3. Snow White and her Stepmother, 1995
any work ofPaula Regohas an electrical charge that remains alive and ready to hatch. The Portuguese artist is passionate about the darkness of fairy tales, having reinvented them as personal nightmares with shades of fear in new versions that are even scarier than the original narratives. He produced a series of drawings and prints based on Disney images, from Snow White, Pinocchio and Peter Pan, as well as images of Jane Eyre. In thisPaula Regoit changes the hierarchy of stories, recontextualizes them in contemporary life, and fills them with a kind of sexual dread. Snow White and her Stepmother, is a large pastel from 1995, with a disturbing and emotionally charged image. In this one we recognize Snow White, for her iconic dress, being helped into her white underwear by an older woman in a tight dress and black stiletto heels. There is something sinister about this act between the two women: Snow White, the hapless child, being forced to put on (or perhaps take off) her underwear. Undoubtedly, the power of this work lies in the strangeness of the content combined with the powerful form of the figures.

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4. Abortion Series
“Women will always abort, and with these laws, they will do so by finding other solutions that put their lives at risk” — Paula Rego
Paula Rego, who created in 2000, a painting series dedicated to abortion, after the first referendum on the decriminalization of the voluntary interruption of pregnancy in Portugal. Abortion was banned, and a first referendum for its decriminalization was held in 1998, which turned out to be non-binding due to voter turnout below 50%. Use the sharing tools found on the article page. It was following this result of the first referendum that he created the series of ten pastel paintings that, bluntly, portray women experiencing abortion situations. These circulated in several cities in the country, with the aim of contributing to the cause of decriminalizing the voluntary interruption of pregnancy, something that would only happen in 2007, after a new plebiscite. The black and white engraving, created in 2000 but only now printed for sale, shows a woman preparing to have a clandestine abortion, sitting in a corner, with a bucket beside her.“I was so furious because I remembered my experiences of clandestine abortion when I was a student at the Slade School of Art in London in the 1950s, where it was also illegal,” she wrote.Paula Regoto the Public.

Paula Rego| P55 Magazine | P55.ART

5. Doctor Dog
The “story painter” draws on folk and fairy tales, literature and her own biography to create politically charged and deeply disturbing paintings. His vigorous compositions are imbued with cruelty - subtle and open - and permeated with a sense of unease and ambiguity. In the foreground are women and girls, and often animals as substitutes for humans.Paula Regois fascinated by what she calls “the beautiful grotesque” in life and art. As she describes it: “It's the divine, perhaps. […] I am referring to some other kind of divine, which is very strongly linked to Portuguese folk tales and stories – their strength and, many times, the enormous cruelty involved. Cruelty is fascinating.”

Paula Rego| P55 Magazine | P55.ART


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