Portuguese-born, London-based artist Paula Rego is the subject of an important retrospective at Tate Britain which opened in London this week. It’s running until 24 October and tackles Rego’s most significant themes including British children songs, folk tales, and macabre news in over 100 works.
The artist has explored the full spectrum of media such as collage, paintings, large-scale pastels, drawings and etchings. It is curated by Elena Crippa, Curator, Modern & Contemporary Art, with Zuzana Flašková, Assistant Curator, Modern & Contemporary British Art, who work at Tate Britain.
The remarkable exhibition deals with socio-political events such as the legalisation of abortion in Portugal. In her paintings, collages and drawings from the 1960s to 70s, Rego passionately and fiercely opposed the Portuguese dictatorship, using a range of sources for inspiration including advertisements, caricatures and news stories.
Throughout her career, Rego has been fascinated with storytelling and this imbues much of her paintings. The exhibition includes prints from her series Nursery Rhymes 1989 in which Rego explores the strangeness and cruelty of traditional British children’s songs. As the first artist-in-residence at the National Gallery, Rego also took inspiration from art history, weaving references to old masters such as Hogarth and Velázquez into paintings in which the protagonists are women, exploring their struggle and their journey towards emancipation, as in The Artist in Her Studio 1993. Exploring further political themes, Paula Rego brings together striking works addressing the issues of women’s trafficking and female genital mutilation.