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 Paula Figueiroa Rego  (1935 - )

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About: Paula Figueiroa Rego


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Lived/Active: United Kingdom/Portugal      Known for: children's story illustration, printmaking, painting

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Ad Code: 1
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from Auction House Records.
Looking Back
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

A writer, printmaker, collage artist and illustrator, Portuguese-born Paula Rego, working in England, creates children's stories that are "thin guises for pshycho-sexual intrigue and taboo, where magical realism rules, where nothing is certain except the witchy powers of feminism, and the underlying notion that nothing is as it seems." (Saatchi)  She says that many of these 'dark' tales spring from the subconscious part of her brain and not from reality in her life.  Some of her works, based on reactions against Portuguese politics when António Salazar was dictator from, 1932 to 1968 have political implications.   They express her ongoing need to challenge the status quo, such as in 2000, when she did a series to publish in Portugal on female isolation and abandonment.  This response from her was stirred by a referendum that was being held on abortion. 

Her working methods include cut and paste collage and large-scale pastels, many with animal subjects.  She is a professional draughtswoman and printmaker who uses her skills to convey her love of story telling.  Her lithographs, etchings, aquatints and occasional dry points, which she took up seriously in 1987, also reflect her interest in other people's writings such as familiar Nursery Rhymes and stories such as Peter Pan and Jane Eyre.  In 1994, she did five prints for the Folio Society Nursery Rhymes including 'Rub a Dub Dub' and 'Old Mother Hubbard'. 

Paula Rego was raised in Portugal in an upper middle class family with servants as her father was English and was an engineer.  Many of her tales told through her printmaking reference her childhood where family members would tell her stories, often comical, which she reinvents with words and pictures.

Living in Portugal, she attended an English school but experienced much political tension because of rebellion of many of the citizens against right-wing dictator, Salazar.   She was sent to St. Julian's School in Carcavelos, Portugal followed by a finishing school in Kent, England.  Then she attended the Slade School of Art in London where her primary instructor was William Coldstream.  She married Victor Willing, a painter and the couple lived in both Portugal and England until 1975, when they settled in London.  Walling died in 1988, having long been ill from multiple schlerosis.  Her model for many years was a woman named Lila and the studio was relatively small, but over the years as her illustrating became increasingly wide ranging, her studio has come to resemble a costume shop and theatrical storage place.

In 2005, Paula Rego received the honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from Oxford University.

Sources include:
Saatchi Gallery, Professor Paul Coldwell

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