This is a short introduction to the work of Paula Rego, my most favourite female contemporary painter. She was born in Portugal, but has lived in England for many years now. The last exhibition of hers I saw was in Madrid, in January 2008.
The painting I absolutely love and adore is “The Dance”, which has a mystifying influence on me. Its blue colours in all possible tones, the coexistence of generations, the translucent moonlight, transfer the viewer to a magical plateau where he/she can contemplate the beauty and futility of life as a stream within the gigantic and all encompassing stream of Nature.
The “Maids” is another atmospheric painting, full of ambivalence. The servants become masters, they dominate and control the masters. the soft pastel colours become colours with teeth, like the intruding animal’s, and remind the viewer that this is a suffocating and disturbing interior.
The Family is almost frightening, in spite of the sun coming through the window. The wife and the elder daughter almost abuse the male figure of the father while in the act of dressing him. He seems to be impotent and almost unable to survive the process. The younger daughter observes from a distance, making an unknown wish.
This is a painting of disillusion, defragmentation, despair, and empty hollow faces. Her style in this painting is reminiscent to me of Max Beckmann’s without this being in any way a negative feature of her art. Life has not turned up to be what it was promised to be and the figures in their solemn postures contemplate the inevitability of the End, while they let whatever is happening aroung them just pass them by.