Showing works spanning her entire career, this is the first major retrospective of Paula Rego’s work in England for over 20 years.
Born in Lisbon, Portugal, Dame Paula Rego (b1935) is one of Europe’s most influential contemporary figurative artists. Often taken from literature, myths, fairy tales, cartoons, theatre, current events, religious subjects and her own life, Rego’s characters confront both urgent social issues and memories of her Portuguese childhood.
The exhibition spans Rego’s entire career since the 1960s with more than 80 works, including never-before-seen paintings and works on paper from the artist’s family and close friends. It features paintings, pastels, drawings and prints related to political injustices and cultural clichés in subjects ranging from dictatorship to backstreet abortion and female genital mutilation.
Highlights include Abortion Series (1998-9), Rego’s response to the failure of the 1998 referendum in Portugal and the government’s decision not to legalise abortion, Painting Him Out (2011) which reverses the traditional art historical relationship between male artist and female muse; War (2003), Rego’s response to a newspaper photograph published in the Guardian showing the bombing of civilians in Iraq, and Angel (1998), an invented figure who avenges the death of a young girl Amélia, seduced and ill-treated by a priest.
This is the first ever exhibition in Britain to present the paintings Rego made in the 1960s during the regime of the dictator Salazar. The exhibition will subsequently travel to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (23 November 2019 to 26 April 2020), and to the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (25 May to 1 November 2020).