The Life and Work of Paula Rego: The figurative artist

Vida e Obra: Quem foi artista portuguesa Paula Rego?

No story, no design” — Paula Rego

the portuguese artist Paula Rego is currently an influential figure, whether in the artistic or social world. the british newspaper Financial Times includedPaula Rego in the list, released annually, in which 25 women from all over the world from different industries with a leading role in the previous year are celebrated. Throughout the career,Paula Rego has been building a visual language that combines literary references mainly from 19th and 20th century works with autobiographical elements.

Paula Rego | P55 Magazine | P55.ART

Who is it Paula Rego?
Paula Rego was born in the Portuguese capital, in 1935, in the middle of the Estado Novo. This regime and social prosperity abroad, encouraged his family to decide that his studies were at the Slade School of Fine Art, in England. At the age of 16, she entered this institution, where she met her husband, Victor Willing, who is also a painter.Paula Rego plays a fundamental role in figurative art, revolutionizing the female presence in the artistic field by exalting the role of women, their pleasures and challenges, but also by denouncing political authoritarianism, injustice and violence. His figurative and narrative works, often considered shocking, were inspired by different elements of high art and popular culture, but are never conservative.

Paula Rego | P55 Magazine | P55.ART

The vivacity in the works ofPaula Rego 
The turning point in his work came with the series on the girl and the dog. “In it, the female figure clearly takes the lead in the action, while the dog is subdued and cherished. The girl plays mother, friend, nurse and lover, in a game of seduction and domination that continues in later works. Technically, the figures gain volume, the space gains solidity and autonomy, the scenographic perspective is set.” Since the 1960s, he has lived in London, which has given him his international flair, especially since 1987, when he signed with the Marlborough Fine Art gallery. Her husband's death, also in that year, is marked in works such as The Cadet and the Sister, The Departure, The Family or The Dance, 1988. In the following decade, the works Tempo – Passado e Presente (1990-1991) and the series of pastel paintings entitled Dog Woman, which marks the beginning of a new cycle of symbolic women. Demonstrating a critique of the result of the first referendum on abortion, held in Portugal in 1997, paints Abortion (1997-1999). These works ofPaula Rego which were extremely important for the positive outcome of the second referendum on abortion in Portugal. Currently, she is one of the most recognized Portuguese artists, mainly for the realistic works that follow the lines of Goya, Hogarth and Beckmann, and for having explored various techniques — from painting to collage, passing through drawing and engraving, constantly constructing unique situations and idiosyncratic, in any medium.

Paula Rego | P55 Magazine | P55.ART"The dance" in Paula Rego, 1988 

To knowPaula Rego
At Gallery 111 exposure is evident Longing with three dozen works, covering diverse themes, techniques, and personal stories. As mentioned in the Vision article, the exposure is "a temporal capsule, measuring the transformation of her naturalistic and figurative traits, the expressiveness of bodies in series such as the one dedicated to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, the autobiographical scenes that reveal the prolonged illness of the artist's husband, Victor Willing (1928-1988) , the surprising notes – such as Futebolista (2010), with a Paula Rego in sporty poses; or the three outstanding works dedicated to Mary Magdalene, paintings recovered from the cycle of the Virgin Mary (Anunciação, 2002), which refer to the voice (or lack thereof) of women – a constant activism by the artist."

Paula Rego | P55 Magazine | P55.ART

In addition to this exhibition space, you can visit the House of Stories Paula Rego, an institution dedicated to the artist with seven rooms that house an extensive work of painting, drawing, engraving, from the collection started in 2009, allows you to follow the artistic evolution ofPaula Rego and its figurative language. In this creative journey, reflection on personal and social events is implicit. Examples of this are works such as the siege (1976), a painting evoking the Siege of Lisbon, in 1384, imposed by the troops of Castile, to which curator Catarina Alfaro attributes a “tragic tension that reflects the personal history of Paula Rego, his artistic isolation and the disappointment felt in the aftermath of the Revolution of April 25, 1974 in Portugal”. The collection is dominated by creations made in the 1980s, with the curator referring to: “During this decade,Paula Rego expresses his desire for artistic liberation, for 'doing more directly'. The presence and confrontation with his emotions through painting are triggered when he establishes a radically new visual language to tell his stories, creating a complex and ambiguous universe in which animals are creatures with human qualities and behaviors, thrown into peculiar situations. , vivid dramas that noisily invade painting.
In 2017, the documentary about the painter, “Paula Rego, Stories & Secrets” The director, Nick Willing, the artist's son, worked without a defined script, letting his mother's life dictate the direction the documentary would take. “At the age of 80, and to my surprise, the mother agreed to talk about her life with me and started telling me stories that she had never told me or that she had never told me in that way, without tricks.-Nick Willing

Paula Rego | P55 Magazine | P55.ART

Discover more aboutPaula Rego:
From the Annunciation to Adoration: Christmas told by Paula Rego 
The Abortion
The Representation of Animals in Art
The Azulejo in Portugal

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