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Paula Rego: Writing drawings, staging stories/

Paula Rego, Human Cargo, 2007Paula Rego, Human Cargo, 2007

Paula Rego: Writing drawings, staging stories

December 5 - November 8, 2020

This exhibition brings together a series of works that reveal the creative process through which Paula Rego constructs a unique and personal figurative world, where stories function as genuine realist structures.

In her multifaceted work, drawing has always functioned as the source and driving force for her transfiguration of stories. Presented at this exhibition are a set of the artist's loose drawings and sketchbooks, some of which have never been seen in public before. This selection includes a most varied range of free drawings, model drawings and composition drawings establishing the coordinates of a final work that is customarily produced through the techniques of painting or engraving. But, to a large extent, these drawings are spontaneous graphic realisations, firmly established ideas that are either reaffirmed or even eliminated and which only have a place on that piece of paper, setting themselves up as direct translations of an emotional experience into picture form, revealing an intimate process of visuality.

From the 1990s onwards, the spectacular dimension that is to be noted in the way she constructs the works gives them the status of genuine tableaux vivants, where the stories that are told begin to be staged, represented and reinterpreted in her studio, gaining their own life through live models who follow the artist's perceptions and her own version of the stories. When she doesn't find the ideal model, Rego creates her three-dimensional figure with a materiality fabricated through her own imagination and with the same artistic impulse. This creative process of staging is brought to the exhibition through the presence of models and other scenic elements.

Prominence is also given to Paula Rego's most recent work, Orgulho /Pride (from the Seven Deadly Sins series), which is being exhibited for the first time in Portugal. This three-dimensional work, made of papier mâché, and a variety of materials and fabrics, offers us a life-size representation of the queen consort of France, Marie Antoinette (1755-1793). It is certainly the result of a work of continuity with the fantastic creatures that she produced between 1977 and 1978. During this period, the artist created a series of fabric dolls representing characters from folk tales: The pregnant princess; The perfect prince; The Princess Pea; The three golden heads and Puss in Boots. The complexity of this new sculptural work, which includes other smaller-sized figures, was also the result of the natural evolution of her process of constructing the models used to figure in the paintings.

Curatorship: Catarina Alfaro