Paula Rego

PAULA REGO born 1935

Paula Rego was born in Lisbon, Portugal. The storytelling tradition was a major childhood influence upon her subsequent artistic development and she remembers vividly being told stories by her grandmother, aunts and other relatives. She also was struck by dramatic book illustrations such as those by Gustave Dore for Dante’s Inferno.

Rego takes real and imagined stories as her starting point and the characters and events change and evolve as she works. This is analogous to the oral tradition of storytelling, where the person relating the tale is free to elaborate and develop the narrative rather than being restricted to a written text.

Her work may depict the family in a domestic setting or a nursery tale but is often imbued with a sense of ambiguity and menace. There is a disquieting tension. Her stories are often seen from the feminine point of view or from a child’s perspective.

As an outstanding draughtswoman, she has the ability to imbue a scene with emotion and this talent, combined with her interest in storytelling and the world of the imagination, make print making an ideal medium for her work.

Rego studied at the Slade between 1952 and 1956. She was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1989. She was the first Associated Artist at the National Gallery in 1990. A retrospective exhibition was held at the Tate, Liverpool in 1996 and she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Oxford University in 2005.

Rego’s work is held in many major galleries and she has exhibited extensively.