NMWA presents Paula Rego, on view through May 25, 2008, a groundbreaking exhibition that ensures that a new audience will experience the power of Paula Rego’s vision. Portuguese artist Paula Rego (born 1935) tells spellbinding stories of love, betrayal, and revenge. She elevates traditional narrative painting by rendering bold figures in mysterious settings, creating images that are evocative and alluring.
Although Rego is one of the leading figurative artists on the international scene and has been the subject of major exhibitions at the Tate Britain in London and the Tate Liverpool, NMWA is the first U.S. museum to present a retrospective of her work.
Rego’s art is rooted in dark fantasies, literature, fairy tales, art history, and personal memories. She was born in Lisbon, Portugal, to an affluent family, but her fragile health as a child prompted the family to move to the seaside resort town of Estoril. As an only child, Rego spent much of her time drawing, poring over picture books, and listening to relatives tell stories.
After attending a finishing school in London, Rego enrolled in the city’s prestigious Slade School of Art. Life Painting, 1954, a work from those student days, depicts a fleshy, red-haired model gazing into the distance. The brushwork in this painting is sensitive and precise, but the dark outlines that Rego used to shape the model’s face and body (which would become a hallmark of her mature style) add a slightly eerie quality to the image.
Rego’s work often broaches disconcerting subjects and challenges us to think about uncomfortable issues, a propensity that may stem in part from Rego’s Portuguese culture. The artist acknowledges that the country’s folklore and literature are distinguished by dark humor and a provocative outlook.
Paula Rego is organized by the Museo Nacion al Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Madrid, Spain. The presentation of Paula Rego at the National Museum of Women in the Arts is generously sponsored by Marlborough Fine Art, London. and special friends of NMWA.