At Casa das Histórias, in Cascais, the exhibition entitled "Paula Rego/ Josefa de Óbidos - Religious art in the feminine" shows, until May 23, 115 works byPaula Rego, some of them unpublished, and 21 paintings by Jose de Óbidos.
The House of StoriesPaula Regoproposes an unusual visit to the work of two visionary and innovative authors, who went beyond pre-established concepts and established their artistic irreverence through the exploration of timeless themes. The program of the House of StoriesPaula Regohas come to be defined based on the premise that the artist's work communicates with the past and the present, and also constitutes an element that dilutes hierarchies and differentiates between high and popular art, contemporary art, artists consecrated artists, outsider artists and other possible differences that usually divide the territory of the visual arts and their producers.
In the female artistic genealogy and in the respective historiographical analysis of Portuguese art, two names stand out, Josefa de Ayala (1630) andPaula Rego(1935). to separatePaula RegoJosefa de Óbidos are three centuries apart, however, the two artists have points in common in their work. To bring to this monographic museum two exhibitions by two women artists, with a common title, but admittedly differentiated in space - the exhibition of works byPaula Regotakes place in seven adjoining rooms and Josefa's in the room dedicated to temporary exhibitions - it is justified, from the outset, by the way both are distinguished, in their different creative periods, by the originality of their work that surpasses the dominant academisms of their times, by the intense sensualist charge that both impart to the painting and also by the imaginative capacity of reconfiguration of religious themes, using an original, structured and feminine discourse, in which the sacred and the profane communicate through a personal pictorial vocabulary that both dared to build.
Moving away from any comparatist intention between their lives and works, it is inevitable to establish common points. His independent character and commitment to asserting his individuality, both in life and in art, were certainly decisive for the realization of a unique artistic path. The choice of religious themes in which women are protagonists, or exemplary female models, may also function as a criterion for approaching the two artists, not least because both coincide, more than once, in their choices when they represent "Christian heroines".
The selection of works byPaula Regofor this exhibition, it was based on a common theme that the artist has explored, more or less openly, since always: Catholic religiosity and what is mysterious about it.And his constant reflection on the role of women thus extends to concrete characters, saints and martyrs, holders of a narrative and historical existence. Josefa de Ayala extends her representation of female models of the Catholic Church to a remarkable personality, especially in the Iberian Peninsula, for her reforming role in the definition of spirituality from the 16th century onwards. This woman, Santa Teresa de Ávila, of invincible critical sense, was a nun, writer, reformer, founder, prominent Spanish mystic, and was born in Ávila in 1515. Of all the commissions accepted by Josefa for paintings of altarpieces in several Portuguese churches, , due to its quality as a whole, the series of Santa Teresa do Convento de Nossa Senhora da Piedade, from Cascais, dated from 1672, and which constituted a fundamental nucleus for the selection of the artist's works in this exhibition.Until May 23, the exhibition reveals the dialogue between the works of the two artists and some unpublished works byPaula Rego.
In an interview with Renascença, the curator and director of Casa das HistóriasPaula Regostates that both artists have “a fundamental role in the female artistic genealogy and in the history of art”. Catarina Alfaro highlights that eitherPaula Rego, or Josefa de Óbidos in her time, address common themes, such as “the leading role of women in the narrative of Catholic religiosity”.This exhibition, says Catarina Alfaro, was proposed by the mayor of Cascais, sensitized by the president of the D. Luís I Foundation to the subject. The town has one of the most important series of Josefa de Óbidos in its mother church, says the curator, who adds that it is a set of works “dedicated to Santa Teresa d'Ávila and her mystical thought”.
The series by Santa Teresa do Convento de Nossa Senhora da Piedade, in Cascais, dates back to 1672. This core of the Baroque artist is “complemented by works that differentiate the artist by her feminine gaze, namely the treatment of some main characters of the Catholic religion , like Santa Catarina, whichPaula Regoalso pays attention to it. Nonetheless,Paula Regoand Josefa de Óbidos have different positions towards religion. "THEPaula Regoclaims that he never had a religious upbringing”, explains Catarina Alfaro. The curator stresses, however, that “there was always an interest on the part ofPaula Regoin what was mysterious about the Catholic religion and what fascinated it”.
The art historian also indicates that what most interests thePaula Regoare the stories and in this sense, it is the story of “Virgem Maria” that focuses her attention the most. “The series thatPaula Regodedicated to the life of the Virgin show the most humanized side, namely the moment of childbirth”, says Catarina Alfaro. “The suffering of Mary, when she loses her son and takes him off the cross” is portrayed in an unpublished work that belongs to the private collection ofPaula Regoand which can be seen in this exhibition organized by Fundação D.Luís I together with the Cascais municipality. As for Josefa de Óbidos, the artist began by working in her father's workshop. “From a very early age, she accompanied her father to Coimbra where he received religious orders”. Such asPaula Rego, she also worked in a studio and, in 1660, reports Catarina Alfaro, “she became financially autonomous, emancipated herself, which was unusual for the time”. For Josefa de Óbidos, the studio space was “a space for the affirmation of her identity”, says the curator.
also forPaula Rego, the studio space is the epicenter of his creation. “When thePaula Regowent to her studio, there was an indication that family life could not enter”, recalls the director of Casa das Histórias, who adds that this separation between private life and work “enabled her autonomy as an artist and as a woman.This almost magical relationship with his studio still exists today. In Cascais, the exhibition “Paula Rego/ Josefa de Óbidos: Religious Art in the Feminine” shows 115 works byPaula Rego, between painting, drawing, engraving and sculpture, in seven rooms of the museum and 21 paintings by Josefa de Óbidos in the temporary exhibition space.