Paula Rego

Biography of Paula Rego

Paul Rego’s vivacious style, satirical wit, and astonishing gift for storytelling has made her into one of the most inspiring female artists working today. Her oeuvre has gone through a wide spectrum of characteristics; from abstract to representational, comical to tragic.


Born in Lisbon in 1935, Paula Rego was sent to England by her anglophile parents at age 16. Once there she studied at various colleges, including the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art which she attended from 1952. Rego’s career effectively began in 1962 when she exhibited works with the London Group, of which David Hockney and Frank Auerbach were also members. It was in this period that she did the first ever artist in residence at the National Gallery in London.


The tendency towards abstraction and surrealism that dominated the avant-garde circles at Slade largely influenced Paula Rego’s work. Since her student days, she has created figures that are caricatural, almost grotesque, and that somewhat blur the line between comedy and tragedy. Rego’s figures often take the form of animals, giving them satirical, psychologically charged natures. Her female figures, often portrayed so as to represent the antithesis of female behavior, have earned Rego associations with feminist art movements. Whilst her earlier works consisted essentially of illustrations of folk tales and young girls her later works tend to depict more violent, political subjects.


Since the early 60s Paula Rego has divided her time between England and Portugal, and today much of her output is centered around limited edition etchings. She has had numerous solo exhibitions and retrospectives throughout Europe, and her works have featured in prestigious institutions such as the Serpentine Gallery, London (1988), the National Gallery, London (1991) and more recently the TATE Britain in 2004. In 2010 Rego was made Dame of the British Empire in the Queen’s birthday honors, and in the same year won the MAPFRE Foundation Drawing Prize in Madrid. 

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