Tate Britain celebrates Paula Rego
Dame Paula Rego is one of Europe’s most influential contemporary figurative artists, so it was only a matter of time before she got the recognition she deserves. Opening this month at Tate Britain, in the city she has lived for most of her life, is the UK’s largest retrospective of her work, spanning her entire career, from the mid-1950s to recent years.
Throughout her career, Rego has been fascinated with storytelling. These aren’t just any stories though.
The exhibition tells the story of Rego’s remarkable life, highlighting the personal nature of much of her work and the socio-political context in which it is rooted. More than 100 works, including paintings, large-scale pastels, drawings, etchings and collages, reveal her broad range of references, from comic strips to history paintings.
An uncompromising artist who has revolutionised the way in which women are represented, the exhibition begins with a selection of her rarely seen early works in which she first explored personal as well as social struggle.
Her striking works confront difficult stories of pain and abuse that Rego feels need to be told, including the issues of women’s trafficking and female genital mutilation, and her own personal experience of depression and therapy.
In Interrogation 1950, painted at 15 years old, Rego asserted her commitment to denouncing injustices and standing up for victims. In her paintings, collages and drawings during the 1960s and 70s, she uses advertisements, caricatures and news stories to show her opposition to the Portuguese dictatorship.
Highlights also include Rego’s large pastels of single, female figures from the 1990s to 2000s, including the ‘Dog Woman’ and ‘Abortion’ series, some of the artist’s most celebrated works. She was proud to see works from ‘Abortion’ used to campaign for the legalisation of abortion in Portugal.
You can catch Paula Rego at Tate Britain until 24 October 2021. Click here for tickets.