A parade of insects, an ant about to devour a cockerel, a blue-faced boy fighting or playing with a sort of beetle, a bee (taken from a cartoon strip), a girl with Bette Davis eyes, a monkey and a dolphin, all this and more around an (Ah!) a Madonna disguised as a geisha breast-feeding a black child. Generated in this network of characters, metamorphosing, innocent and perverse creatures is the world that filled Paula Rego’s canvases in 1984.
The paintings about the Vivian Girls were very close to this “house of the mosquito”.
The Story of the Vivian Girls is a manuscript over nineteen thousand pages written by the American writer Henry Joseph Darger, and only discovered after his death in 1973. Henry Darger was a complex and troubled character who left thousands of drawings and collages from a giant archive of newspaper and magazine cuttings. Along with his texts, the material found told the moral, strange and perverse story of the Vivian Girls fighting for justice on a planet which is a satellite of the Earth. There could not be more powerful material and a better source for Paula Rego. The same complexity of a chaotic world populated by strange beings is the subject of her painting in the years 1984-1985, during which time she went from enormous intertwined compositions to a gallery of characters that would later be transformed into characters in her perverse and fascinating theatre.
Paula Rego’s work has constructed worlds, microcosms of affective relationships, explicit perversions, dubious characters, filled by a gallery of animals and mutating beings that make up a fable in each image.