Frieze OVR Highlights:
Paula Rego

London, 07 October 2020
Paula Rego, Dame with Goat's Foot 1, (Undressing the Divine Lady) (2011–2012). Pastel on paper. 137 x 102 cm. © Paula Rego. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice.

Paula Rego is now represented by Victoria Miro Gallery and this is one of three pastel on paper works from their Frieze Art Fair 2020 online viewing room.

Rego is rightly considered the grand dame of figurative painting in her native Portugal, as well as the U.K., where she has lived for much of her life after studying at the Slade School of Fine Art in the 1950s.

Rego exhibited with The London Group in the 1960s, alongside David Hockney and Frank Auerbach but it was in the 1980s that she received more notable institutional support with solo exhibitions at the Gulbenkian Foundation and the Serpentine Gallery. Later, Rego was to become the subject of comprehensive survey shows at Tate Britain and the Reina Sofia.

Typically for Rego, this work incorporates fantasy or folklore into an intimate domestic scene depicted through a distinctly feminist lens.

She has described her method of using pastels as 'like painting with your fingers'. Soft, smooth tones combine with her confidently drawn line to define the form and expression of her figures.

Her hand has become looser and more economical with large parts of paper left untouched, although her figures enchant us with their melancholic gaze and the psychological complexity of their relationship. Rego's male figure seems angry and vulnerable, whilst he clings onto the 'divine lady', who confidently looks out towards us whilst propped up above him leaning on her guitar.

Numerous foreboding narratives threaten the scene, but Rego never forces them on the view, allowing us space for our own reflection.


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