Paula Rego OMG

Let’s talk about bizarre. In the most beautiful, delicious, amazing, dear-God-I-want-to-BE-this-artist way. Paula Rego. When I heard her name mentioned in class I thought “psshhhhttt, Paula Who-Now?” and figured I’d never heard of her or seen her work.

WRONG! I was WRONG! Her work is all of this awesome, weird, grotesque-ish STUFF that we should all know and love.


Can we please appreciate the number of sassy memes you could make out of that woman’s face on that bird body?

I’ll admit, that’s a bit more humorous than most of her other works. For example, her piece, War, from 2003, carries a much stranger, more unsettling mood, though initially it might make viewer’s laugh. paula-rego-war-2003.jpgEspecially once put in context with the name of the piece, it has much more weight. Very Russian-Opera, creepy-marionette.

Additionally, the facial expression on that lower rabbit in the dark-pink dress pulls viewers RIGHT into the piece. It’s automatically public, automatically a statement. War as a theater, war as a performance, a circus.20091202024124_paularegosnowwhite.jpgTHIS piece was one of my automatic favorites. Damn. That bizarre, oversized deer head, the splayed knees of the woman in the chair, and most of all, THAT DEATH STARE FROM THE WOMAN IN BLACK! I will see her in my nightmares and I am one-hundred percent okay with that. Also, the TEXTURE. The feeling, the cool, taffeta dress. The smooth of the wooden legs on that chair, the bumpy, woven texture on the cloth of the chair itself. Not to mention that leather cushion her feet press into. Damn. I was not expecting to get this excited about this artist. I was not expecting to get this excited about painting in general, because it terrifies me 😛

chpr-p045dep - web.jpgTHIS piece, The Company of Women, is where we enter the private. Yes, multiple subjects make eye contact with the viewer, but in such a way that we become party to an intimate moment. The darkness of the space brings us inside what feels like a small room. The kilt/skirt/whatever that is on the older man is just amazing. The pattern, the color, the fact that it takes a minute for you to even question a man wearing a skirt… But all of that aside, I think what makes this piece so real is the portrayal of the man’s feet. Every wrinkle, every bunion and the elongated, El-Greco feel to those feet is just amazing. I wish I could find more on the history of the piece, because there’s just SO MUCH I wish I knew. Who are these people, why are the women still dressed so nicely if the man is barefoot and in a strange cot on the ground? Etc etc etc.

Oh, Paula. Born in Portugal, moved to the UK. I think one of the sweetest things I read is that her father commissioned her to do a series of murals (thanks, Wikipedia!), and I think that her having that support is just so… I don’t know. Uplifting? Heartwarming? Any number of sappy words that I feel borderline-guilty for using?

Anyway, I kind of sort of fell in love with Paula’s work during this small bit of research. Just… wow.


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