Exhibition at Casa das Histórias in Cascais reveals Paula Rego’s creative process


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The Paula Rego House of Stories, in Cascais, opens this week “Paula Rego: Stories change, styles change”, an exhibition composed of more than one hundred works, which “reveal the creative process” of this Portuguese artist.

According to the Casa das Histórias, in a statement, “through the exhibition of more than a hundred works, the exhibition unveils Paula Rego’s creative process over seven decades, to show how she was able to build a unique and personal figurative territory, where stories function, since her first creations, as true realistic structures”.

“Stories change, styles change”, curated by Catarina Alfaro, curator and coordinator of programming and conservation at Casa das Histórias Paula Rego (CHPR), presents “a careful selection of works by Paula Rego”: paintings and drawings in oil, acrylic paint, gouache, watercolor, pastel, crayon and colored pencil on the most varied supports, collages, tapestry, serigraphs, etching and water-ink, but also “about 18 studies in ink on paper executed by Paula Rego for some of the paintings that she would later carry out”.

The CHPR recalls that “the 1960s and 1970s, within the panorama of Paula Rego’s work, are characterized by the exploration of experimental practices, which will be at the origin of the construction of her particular symbolic universe”.

At the same time, “Paula Rego claims her autonomy from the artistic movements of her time, a specificity that her work would maintain until the end”.

In the 1980s, “this sense of freedom from the conventions imposed on the way of ‘making art’ would intensify, resulting in a reformulation of his creative process and the establishment of a radically new visual language to tell his stories through painting”.

From the 1990s onwards, Paula Rego’s working method “would gradually become even more complex and daring, with the use of live models or three-dimensional puppets, rigorously dressed and positioned among objects and props to build the story and tactilely compose the scene to be transported to the screen”.

In “Stories change, styles change”, the public will be able to appreciate works such as “Night” (1954), “Battle of Alcácer-Quibir” (1966), “The siege” (1976), “The lovers” (1982), “Madame Butterfly” (c. 1985), “Snow White on the Prince’s horse” (1995), “Prince Pig and his first bride” (2006), “highlighting Paula Rego’s insubmissive personality”. 1985), “Snow White on the Prince’s Horse”, (1995), “Prince Pig and his first bride” (2006), which “highlight Paula Rego’s insubmissive personality and her determination for an artistic expression free of ties and conventions, which led her to a constant redefinition of her figurative language and the creation of compositionally complex canvases, which cover extremely diverse narrative contexts and inspirations”.

The works presented in the exhibition are part of the Collection of the Municipality of Cascais – Fundação D. Luís I – CHPR, but also come from “important national private collections”.

“Stories change, styles change”, an initiative of the D.Luís I Foundation and the Cascais City Council, as part of the Bairro dos Museus program, will be open from Thursday to March 31, 2024.

Meanwhile, two of Paula Rego’s most celebrated paintings can be seen at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, where they are on display for the first time to pay tribute and mark one year since the artist’s death.

The works “The Angel” (1998) and “The Turkish Bath” (1960) will be on display until July 24, in the atrium of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation headquarters, next to the main staircase, with free admission.

At the Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB), also in Lisbon, you can visit, until September 10, the exhibition “A focus on Paula Rego”, designed around the work “O Impostor”, acquired earlier this year by the State to integrate the Museum of Contemporary Art MAC/CCB.

The painting “O Impostor”, which portrays Salazar in a satirical way, was the first work acquired by the State for the new museum under the management of the Centro Cultural de Belém, in Lisbon.

The oil and mixed media painting on canvas was acquired by the State for €400,000 from the artist’s family, chosen because it is a striking reference to the career of one of the most prominent Portuguese artists at international level, who died in June 2022, at the age of 87.

The exhibition at the CCB includes an unpublished painting by the artist, with another on the back from the 1950s.

Regarding the unpublished, untitled painting, never before shown in public, the curator of the show and CCB administrator, Delfim Sardo, said that it is unknown whether the painting on the back, also untitled, “was rejected by Paula Rego”.

The CCB chose to display a photograph of the back of the canvas, where a female figure appears lying down, “foreshadowing the figurative painting much later” than the 1950s, which experts presume to be the date of the work, “recognizable by the similarity in relation to the drawings she made since 1953, still a student at the Slade School in London”.

On the canvas on display, provided by collectors Carolina and Maria Ana Pimenta, several figures appear that are also presumed to be taken from Paula Rego’s diaries, an artist whose creative universe is “very marked by the ideas of public and private, and where the narratives summon political and domination events”, pointed out the curator.

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