DAME PAULA REGO - ARTIST
Paula Rego is a truly interesting artist. She is a real free spirit and one of life’s true originals. Our photograph of her, taken by JP Masclet has totally captured her spirit of naughtiness and fun. She is an incredible artist; much loved and revered. Our founders, Stephen and Jane have known Paula for many years and are delighted and flattered that she also wears our jewellery. We caught up with Paula for a little Q&A which you can read below.
Celestina's House 2001, © Paula Rego
Black Painting Series: Saturn Devouring His Son, © Francisco Goya
Born in Lisbon in 1935, Paula Rego left Portugal and Salazar’s oppressive dictatorship as an adolescent to study in London where she has now lived for over fifty years. Trained at the Slade School of Arts, she rubbed shoulders with the likes of Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, and David
Hockney. As a painter, she produces large pastel polyptychs
with exceptional flair. Obsessed by a certain literature and
cultural vision of the 19th century, both realistic and imaginary, like her fellow countryman and film director Manoel de Oliveira, Paula Rego intertwines these references (Jane Eyre, Peter Pan,
Daumier, Goya, Lewis Carroll, Hogarth, Ensor, Degas, etc.) with strongly autobiographical elements and elements of real life, that of the contemporary world and its social and political issues, with a contemporary twist. Dark narratives, her
paintings seem to be taken from a cruel tale and evoke
women's issues in strange scenes, going against social codes.
Paula Rego by © Eamonn McCabe
"My favourite themes are power games and hierarchies. I always want to turn things on their heads, to upset the established order, to change
heroines and idiots".
In this aspect, Paula Rego’s ideas reflect those of Hogarth, Goya and Grosz, questioning established conventions and revealing with irony the traits of bourgeois society embodied by family, religion and the State. Drawing her inspiration from the mannequins, dolls and masks staged in her studio, Paula Rego creates characters and animals which she transforms and distorts, thus creating large-format playlets where reality and fiction, dreams and nightmares merge.
Paula Rego , The Dance, 1988 | Acrylique sur papier monté sur toile - 212,6 x 274 cm | © Private Collection / Bridgeman Images
You can see Rego’s current exhibition:
The cruel stories of Paula Rego at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris from 17th October 2018 to 14th January 2019.
Do you think the UK is a good place to live? Why?
I love London above all. I’m not so keen on the
countryside. It’s a good place to live. I’ve always found
it fair. I was a foreigner but I felt part of it..
I’ve been British now since 1959.
If you were suddenly made Prime Minister what would be the first thing you would change?
I would stop bloody Brexit.
What's your favourite piece of work or the piece you are most proud of?
I like The Pillowman. But I’m proud of the abortion
pictures because they helped change the law in
Portugal to allow safe terminations.
Who has been the greatest influence on your life?
My husband Victor Willing
If you hadn’t done what you are doing, what else do you think you would also have been good at? Is there another career you would have liked to
I would have done embroidery. In fact I did do some... and tapestries.
What do you think it would be like being the opposite sex?
I used to feel I was a man sometimes when I was working. I wouldn’t have had to be a good girl.
I would have been tougher instead of a pushover.
Who out of everyone alive or dead you really like or have liked to get to know, not just meet.
Lord Byron. He was good looking and a very good poet.
Do you think you would have carried on doing what you do if you hadn’t ever had any success?
Yes. I did carry on without success for many many years. Nearly 50 years.
What is the most valuable piece of advice that anyone has ever given you that you have actually followed?
My husband said to me once: If you don’t know what to paint read a book.
Lastly which Stephen Einhorn piece of jewellery would you most like to own?
This is the hardest question. I have a few things which I love... a bee necklace and a tiny cup and saucer. I like the earrings especially.
DAME PAULA REGO WEARS