The bestial decade of Paula Rego | Culture

The bestial decade of Paula Rego | Culture


"It was no longer necessary to make art. My God, it was like being free again. I put my feet back on the ground! " It was 1981 and Paula Rego had just painted The monkey, the bear and the unfaithful woman. The unfaithful woman was she; the bear, his lover, the poet Rudy Nassauer; and the red monkey, hitting her, her husband Vic Willing. The painting was a personal liberation, an artistic liberation and, also, the rise of the English critic who, despite having several decades in London, had ignored it until then. The Casa de las Historias de Cascais now includes 52 works from Paula Rego's bestial decade.

"Rego had always underestimated the drawing, because it was something that she did easily when she was a child," says the curator of the exhibition, Catarina Alfaro. "She differed a lot from the drawing of the complexity of the painting, and from the picture of the macaque she believes that she has achieved a greater proximity between her, life and painting".

Rego paints as when she was a child, with the paper on the floor, without a previous plan, what springs from the brain, with a brush the animals are outlined in black, with a sponge moistened in the paintings filling the forms. "Sometimes I start with a gesture, the rest of the bug comes behind," says Rego in the presentation of the show. There is no sentimentality in the expression, it is the most stark Rego, the one that has lost her dear father, the one that takes care of her husband with multiple sclerosis, the one that tries to leave a deep depression based on Jungerian psychotherapy.

Their animals are polymorphic since childhood, as shown in The woman dog (1952) and in his eighties Triton, of two tails and two heads; remember the phantasmagoria of El Bosco and the literary artistic version of Jorge Luis Borges. The great Portuguese painter recognizes that she drinks everything from the drawings of the Spanish magazine Black and White, that his grandfather collected, Fantastic zoology manual, published by the Argentine writer. Catóblepas, half pig, half goat, is one of those disturbing beings that prevent sleeping a child in the dark, reflection of herself, "as a child I was afraid of the air. I did not even go to the garden. "

The exhibition of Paula Rego in Cascais.
The exhibition of Paula Rego in Cascais.

It is their animals that express the lowest human behaviors, their anger, their cruelty; To Rego sentimentality seems ridiculous, in life and in the work. When people and beasts coexist, as in the series of The fables, there is no submission of the beast to the person, both try to help each other or learn on an equal level. They are fables from the painter's mind, unlike the series of Operas, eight commissions to cover the works he saw with his father at the San Carlos theater.

If in the fables there are traces of Gauguin, in Vivian girls (1984), with a mother who devours her daughter, the nod is to the Goya of Saturn devouring his son; but the outburst of colors and compositions recall the greatest influence of Dubuffet. "He constantly deconstructs classic themes of painting", explains Alfaro.

If in the following decade Rego would provoke the scandal of what bienmirantes with the series on abortion, here he recalls the childhood violence and honors Henry Darger

If in the following decade Rego would provoke the scandal of what bienmirantes with the series on abortion, here he recalls the childhood violence and honors Henry Darger, painter who was discovered after death, when the home of his miserable New York room found 1,500 folios of scenes of children fighting victoriously against adults in a cruel revolution and bloodthirsty. Rego points to that cruel triumph and only the series In and out of the sea, "Full of sex and gluttony", with some nice turtles – at last! – and their characteristic rabbits ease the visit. "The beach of Ericeira was his refuge and his inspiration," says the curator, "and is reflected in the most hedonistic part of these 80s."

At the end of that decade her husband Vic dies, after his long deterioration due to multiple sclerosis. At that time the series belongs Girl and dog The girl is she, the dog, guess. "Vic was in the final phase of his illness and needed care," says the artist in the presentation of the series. "I chose a dog because you can not do the same things with people. It does not work the same It does not have the same tenderness. It would have been ridiculous. " In the paintings, the girl opens her mouth to the dog to feed him, but also-always so Rego-she lifts her skirt to look at the sex. "In all these works in which the animal is our other self", explains the curator Alfaro, "there is a raw and often brutal revelation of human nature and of the relationships that humans establish among themselves, be they family, loving or policies. "

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