Paula Rego : A Presentation by Janet Erskine
Since the 1950 Paula Rego has played a key role in redefining figurative art in the UK and internationally. An uncompromising artist of extraordinary imaginative power, she has revolutionised the way in which women are represented.
Janet’s presentation outlined the artist’s extraordinary life, highlighting the personal nature of much of her work and the socio-political context in Portugal and its colonies in which it is rooted. It also reveals the artist’s broad range of references, from comic strips to history painting.
The presentation showed the broad versatility of Rego’s works, including collage, paintings large-scale pastels, ink and pencil drawings and etchings. These included early works from the 1950s in which Rego first explored personal as well as social struggle, her large pastels of single figures from the acclaimed Dog Women and Abortion series and her richly layered, staged scenes from the 2000-10s.
And a little more detail that Janet covered:
As a young girl Rego spent hours drawing in her playroom at her grandmother’s house. She had a great imagination, and remembers that she was ‘afraid of everything’. Her parents encouraged her to become an artist, so she came to London to study at art school.
Rego’s pictures are often inspired by stories – from the traditional folk tales and nursery rhymes she heard her grandmother tell when she was a young girl to books that she has read more recently. Many of her paintings include different characters, and some groups of work tell a story that unfolds over a series of pictures.
Rego’s subjects are often female. Many of them are based on her model, Lila, who poses for her in her studio most days. Once in her pictures, the characters she creates seem to take on a life of their own – it is as if they have their own story to tell.
Paula once said, ‘you have to become the figures you’re drawing’.