Paula Rego





Paula Rego (1935 Lisbon – 2022 London) became known for her political collages in the early 1960s. From the mid-1960s, she devoted herself primarily to painting, drawing, and printmaking, developing her typical magical realist style with grotesque scenes dominated by female figures. Her motifs and subjects are dedicated to themes such as pregnancy, aging, abuse, betrayal, mental suffering, aggression, and oppression. Characteristic of Rego's depictions of women is their physical presence. The carnality of the firm, muscular, compactly voluminous bodily forms is far from a sensually sexualized, masculine view of the female body. The hands of her protagonists are large and strong, they grip, they carry, they hold, they support. The faces are edgy and expressive. The spectrum of emotions ranges from inner tension and expectation to concern, fear, exhaustion, fright, despair, and solicitude. It is often the gaze of Rego's struggling figures that addresses directly and immediately the viewer, expressing the complexity of the characters' emotions.

Drawing is the basis of Paula Rego's artistic work. Her sketches, executed with pencil or colored pencil and powerful strokes, document the vitality and spontaneity of the moment of idea generation. The graphic oeuvre comprises more than 280 works in various etching and lithography techniques. In addition, there are proofs, subsequently produced color versions of originally monochrome sheets, new editions revised at a later date, and unique, hand-colored copies. In 1998, she created an important series of paintings on the subject of abortion, followed by a ten-sheet etching cycle on the same subject the following year. In their rhythmic seriality, the etchings are brutal, authentic, and empathetic at the same time. The intimate format requires a close approach. The artist creates a confidential dialogue between the depicted subject and the spectator. In a touching way, Rego bears witness to the mental state of her protagonists. Other works dealing with the subject of female genital mutilation can be placed in this context: Etchings like "Circumcision" and "Stitched and Bound", both from 2009 and with impressive sheet dimensions of 120 x 110 cm each, document the artist's constant preoccupation with social practices through which women are oppressed. In these shockingly disconcerting scenes, Rego's pronounced sense of the macabre and her ability to combine horror with comedy are expressed.

Paula Rego tirelessly translated the abysses of human existence into narrative pictorial structures in which the private, the political, and the social are interwoven into a distinctive microcosm. The emphasis and determination with which her work is gaining public visibility beyond Great Britain and Portugal, can be attributed above all to the universal power of her expressive figurative imagery, the vehemence of her pictorial narrative ability, and the significance of the content she treats. In her multifaceted artistic production, Rego repeatedly focused on themes that revolve around power relations in family constellations or conflict-ridden relationship structures, violence, pain, death, sexuality, and the social role of women. With reference to narrative contexts derived from folk myths, fables, or fairy tales, her images – wonderful and disturbing at the same time – activate the collective memory and evoke childhood memories deeply rooted in the individual subconsciousness. Paula Rego has succeeded in condensing complex questions into simple visual formulas that have the quality of being universally readable, yet reflect subjective experiences and the most intimate situations.

Paula Rego (1935 Lisbon – 2022 London) studied at the Slade School of Art in London from 1952 to 1956. From the second half of the 1950s she lived with her husband and their children mainly in Ericeira (Portugal) until the family moved to London in 1975. She has received numerous honorary doctorates, including from Oxford University in 2005, Universidade de Lisboa in 2011, and the University of Cambridge (UK) in 2015. In 2010, the artist was appointed "Dame Commander of the British Empire" by the British Queen. In 2009, the Casa das Historías Paula Rego museum dedicated to her opened in Cascais, near Lisbon. In 2022, a larger complex of works by Rego, consisting of paintings and fabric figures, has been on display in the central pavilion of the 59th Venice Biennale. On June 8, 2022, Paula Rego died in London at the age of 87. Her works are in important international museums at home and abroad.

Selected solo shows: 2022 kestnergesellschaft, Hanover; 2022 Museo Picasso, Málaga; 2021/2022 Kunstmuseum Den Haag; 2021 Tate Britain, London; 2020 Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; 2019/2020 Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, (Edinburgh); 2018 Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris; 2013 Casa das Historías Paula Rego, Cascais (Portugal); 2012 Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon; 2008 National Museum of Woman in the Arts, Washington; 2007 Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; 1997 Tate Gallery London; 1988 Serpentine Gallery, London.



Paula Rego is born in Lisbon


Studies at the Slade School of Art in London


Lives in Ericeira, Portugal, with her husband, the painter Victor Willing, and her three children


Bursary from the Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon


Settles permanently in London


Visiting Lecturer in Painting at Slade School of Art


Appointed the First National Gallery Associate Artist


Honorary Master of Art, Winchester School of Art


Honorary Doctorate of Letters, University of St. Andrews, Scotland Honorary Doctorate of Letters, University of East Anglia, Norwich


Honorary Doctorate of Letters, Rhode Island School of Design, USA


Honorary Doctorate of Letters, The London Institute


Grã Cruz da Ordem de Sant'Iago da Espada presented by the President of Portugal


Commissioned by the Royal Mail to produce a set of Jane Eyre Stamps Honorary Doctorate of Letters, Oxford University Honorary Doctorate of Letters, Roehampton University


Made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her contribution to Art by the Queen of the United Kingdom Won the Penagos de Dibujo prize, awarded by Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid


Honorary Doctorate, proposed by Faculdade de Belas-Artes, from Universidade de Lisboa


Elected Honorary Fellow of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge Receives Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso (Consagration Prize), Municipal Museum Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, Amarante, Portugal


Honorary Doctorate of Letters from University of Cambridge


Receives the Honors Medal of the city of Lisbon


Receives Maria Isabel Barreno prize


Receives the Portuguese Government's Medal of Cultural Merit Distinguished by the magazine Harper's Bazaar with the Lifetime Achievement


Paula Rego dies in London on June 8, 2022, at the age of 87

Selected Solo Shows


Machtspiele – Kunstmuseum Basel


Letting Loose – Victoria Miro, London

Rupture and Continuity – Côa Museum, Vila Nova de Foz Côa

Drawing Breath – Lelong, Paris

Crivelli's Garden – The National Gallery, London


Paula Rego. There and back again – Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover

Paula Rego. Fragmente einer Sprache des Körpers – Jahn und Jahn, Munich

The Story of Stories – Pera Museum, Istanbul

Histórias de todos os dias. Paula Rego: Anos 70 – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais

Secrets of Faith – Victoria Miro, Venice

Literary Inspirations – Petersfield Museum, Petersfield


Paula Rego – Tate Britain, London

Paula Rego – Museum de Reede, Antwerp

Paula Rego. An Enduring Journey – Cristea Roberts Gallery, London


Paula Rego. The Scream of Imagination – MACNA Museu de Arte Contemporânea Nadir Afonso, Chaves


Paula Rego. Obedience and Defiance – MK Gallery, Milton Keynes; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin

Giving Fear a Face – Centro de Arte Tomás y Valiente CEART, Madrid

Paula Rego. Writing Drawings, Staging Stories – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais

Paula Rego. Looking in – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais


The Cruel Stories of Paula Rego – Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris

Paula Rego. From Mind to Hand. Drawings from 1980-2001 – Marlborough Fine Art, London

Paula Rego. Folktales and Fairy Tales – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais, Portugal Paula Rego: The 80's – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais


There and Back Again. Paula Rego, Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais

Paula Rego. Depression Series – Marlborough Fine Art, London

Paula Rego. Secrets and Stories – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais

Family Sayings. Paula Rego – La Virreina Centre de la Imatge, Barcelona

Paula Rego: The Boy Who Loved the Sea and Other Stories – Hastings Contemporary, Hastings

Paula Rego: The Sketchbooks – Pallant House, Chichester


Old Meets New. Paula Rego – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais

Paula Rego. Dancing Ostriches – Marlborough Fine Art, London

Paula Rego. On the Beach – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais


Paula Rego. Cousin Bazilio and Other Stories – Galería Marlborough, Madrid

The Poacher. Paula Rego – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais


Paula Rego. Fábulas Reales – Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Gas Natural Fenosa, La Coruña

Paula Rego. The Last King of Portugal and Other Stories – Marlborough Fine Art, London


Paula Rego. The Dame with the Goat’s Foot and Other Stories – Marlborough Fine Art, London

As Óperas e a colecção Casa das Histórias – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais


Paula Rego – Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon

Paula Rego. Balzac and Other Stories – Marlborough Fine Art, London

Paula Rego. Mood/Humor – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais


Oratório – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais

The Proles Wall Years – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais

The Body Has More Elbows – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais


Paula Rego – Museum of Contemporary Art, Monterrey, Mexiko; Pinacoteca de São Paulo, Brazil

Paula Rego. Oratório – Marlborough Fine Art, London

Paula Rego. The 70's - Folk Tales and Other Stories – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais


Paula Rego – Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais


Human Cargo – Marlborough Chelsea, New York

Paula Rego. Rétrospective de l’oeuvre graphique – École supérieure des beaux-arts de Nîmes, Nîmes


Paula Rego – Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.

Paula Rego. Graven Images – Waterhall Gallery of Modern Art, Birmingham

Paula Rego. O Vinho, A series of Eight Lithographs – Marlborough Fine Art, London; Galería Marlborough, Madrid


Paula Rego – Marlborough Fine Art, London


Paula Rego. Printmaker – Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh; Victoria Art Gallery, Bath; University Gallery, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne; Royal College of Art, London


Paula Rego – Serralves Museum, Porto

Paula Rego – Tate Britain, London


Paula Rego: Pendle Witches – Hebden Bridge Arts Festival, Linden Mill, North Yorkshire

Paula Rego. Jane Eyre and Other Stories – Marlborough Fine Art, London; Marlborough Chelsea, New York


Paula Rego. Nursery Rhymes e Outras Gravuras (Nursery Rhymes and Other Prints) – Parque das Nações, Lisbon


Paula Rego. Celestina’s House – Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal; Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut


Paula Rego. Pendle Witches, Children’s Crusade and Drawings – Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal


Paula Rego. The Children's Crusade. A Suite of 12 Etchings – Marlborough Graphics, London

Paula Rego. O Crime do Padre Amaro (Paula Rego; The Crime of Father Amaro) – Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon Open Secrets. Drawings and Etchings by Paula Rego – University Art Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; Centre Cultural Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris

Paula Rego. Nursery Rhymes – White Gallery, Brighton


Paula Rego. The Sins of Father Amaro – Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

Paula Rego. Pendle Witches and Peter Pan – Midland Art Centre, Birmingham

Paula Rego. Pra Lá et Pra Cá – Galerie III, Lisbon


Paula Rego – Tate Gallery, Liverpool; Fundação das Descobertas, Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon


Paula Rego. Pendle Witches – Marlborough Graphics, London


Paula Rego. Nursery Rhymes and Peter Pan – Annandale Galleries, Sydney; Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne


Paula Rego. Dog Women – Marlborough Fine Art, London


Paula Rego. Peter Pan and Other Stories – Marlborough Fine Art, London


Paula Rego. Tales from the National Gallery – The National Gallery, London; Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, Plymouth; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon

Paula Rego. Nursery Rhymes – British Council travelling exhibition in Europe


Paula Rego – Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon; Casa de Serralves, Oporto; Serpentine Gallery, London


Paula Rego. Selected Work 1981-1986 – Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Wales and UK tour Edward Totah Gallery, London


The Art Place, New York


South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell Midland Group, Nottingham

Edward Totah Gallery, London


Arnolfini, Bristol

Galerie Espace, Amsterdam


Edward Totah Gallery, London


AIR Gallery, London


Galeria III, Lisbon


Módulo Centro Difusor da Arte, Oporto


Módulo Centro Difusor da Arte, Lisbon


Galeria da Emenda, Lisbon


Galeria Alvarez, Porto


Galeria São Mamede, Lisbon


SNBA, Lisbon