[open the box] Paula Rego

CREATURES by Delfim Sardo

By Culturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos

The mosquito's house (1984) by Paula RegoCulturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos

Paula Rego

The mosquito's house, 1984
Acrylic on canvas
242 x 179 cm
Inventory 274969
© José Fabião

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 mosquito's house (1984) by Paula RegoCulturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos

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.

The mosquito's house (1984) by Paula RegoCulturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos

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.

Paula Rego was born in Lisbon in 1935. Between 1952 and 1956 she studied in London at the Slade School of Art, where she met Victor Willing, the painter whom she married. In 1957 she returned to Portugal, living in Ericeira until 1963. From that time until 1975 she lived between Portugal and England, then settling in London in 1976. Her first solo exhibition was in 1965, at the Sociedade Nacional de Belas-Artes (Lisbon), and during the seventies she regularly exhibited in Portugal. It was only in the mid-eighties that her work gained full recognition in the United Kingdom with an important retrospective in 1988 (Serpentine Gallery, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Fundação de Serralves). In 1997, the Centro Cultural de Belém (Lisbon), presented a retrospective of her work, and, in 2005, the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, in Oporto, showed her most recent works. In 2009 she inaugurated the “Casa das Histórias”, a museum in Cascais dedicated to her work.

McEwen, John, Paula Rego, London, Phaidon Press, 2002.
Paula Rego (cat.), Porto, Fundação de Serralves, 2004.

Credits: Story

© Delfim Sardo, 2009
Biography / Bibliography
© Mariana Viterbo Brandão, 2009
© David Alan Prescott, 2009

Story production (Collection Caixa Geral de Depósitos)
Lúcia Marques (coordinator)
Hugo Dinis (production assistant)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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