Born in Lisbon, Portugal Dame Paula Rego (1935-2022) , is a highly celebrated painter, illustrator and printmaker, who’s visceral and unsettling works are notoriously challenging. Rego lived in Britain from 1951, studying painting at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, her career as an artist spanned half a century.Rego’s style evolved from abstract towards representational, and she favored pastels over oils for much of her career. Her work often included aspects of feminism and was also inspired by literature, folk-themes, myths and fairytales from her native Portugal and from Britain as well as cartoons and religious texts; Rego created narrative works that are imbued with mystery.
Paula Rego was drawn to subjects that are well known, drawing her imagery from sources as varied as Peter Pan and Mary Magdalene. Her first experiments with printmaking were tentative, but as she discovered the various techniques open to her, her work became liberated and extremely powerful. She commented: "I turn to etching, and lithography, with a sense of exuberance and relief. In printmaking you can give your imagination full-range and see the results almost immediately. So one image triggers the idea for the next one and so on."
In 1988, Paula Rego had her first major solo exhibition in Britain at the Serpentine Gallery, London, United Kingdom and was appointed the first National Gallery Associate Artist, London in 1990. Rego's work is part of many important private and public collections including the Arts Council, London, England; Berardo Collection, Lisbon, Portugal; Sintra Museu de Arte Moderna, Sintra, Portugal; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, United States, British Museum, London, England; Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal; Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds, England; National Gallery, London, England; National Portrait Gallery, London, England; Portuguese Embassy, London, England; Tate Gallery, Liverpool, England; and the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, England. In 2009 Casa das Histórias Paula Rego in Cascais, Portugal opened, a museum designed by Eduardo Souto de Moura and devoted to her and her husband Victor Willing's work. In 2005 she received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom and was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her contribution to Art by the Queen of the United Kingdom in 2010. Rego had a major exhibition at Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, France from October 17, 2018 –January 14, 2019. In 2019, Rego also received the Portuguese Government's Medal of Cultural Merit. London’s Tate Britain gallery mounted a major retrospective of her work in 2021, as part of the ‘#5womenartists’ campaign organised by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, in Washington DC.