This stunning hardback exhibition book tells the story of an uncompromising artist of extraordinary imaginative power. Paula Rego has revolutionised the way in which women are represented, and has played a key role in redefining figurative art in the UK and internationally. Highlighting the personal nature of much of her work and the socio-political context in which it is rooted, it also reveals the artist’s broad range of references, from comic strips to history painting.
Featuring over 100 illustrations, including collage, paintings, largescale pastels, ink and pencil drawings, etchings and sculpture, the catalogue reflects the richness of Rego’s work, from the socio-political context to the biographical, from her many literary references to her vast knowledge and referencing of key historical paintings from the Western tradition. This includes early work from the 1950s in which Rego first explored personal as well as social struggles, with her large pastels of single figures from the acclaimed Dog Women and Abortion series and her richly layered, staged scenes from the 2000-10s.
The range of texts reflect the themes explored in Tate Britain’s exhibition, relating to the artist’s childhood memories and everyday life, the experience of love and the loss of the beloved. It also addresses broader socio political issues, such as the policing of women’s bodies, the struggle to legalise abortion, and the fight against authoritarianism and war, from the dictatorship in Portugal to the Iraq War.
Elena Crippa is Curator, Modern and Contemporary British Art, at Tate
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