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Paula Rego at Victoria Miro

The Victoria Miro Gallery in Hoxton exhibits the work of the acclaimed artist Paula Rego from Friday 22 September to Friday 11 November 2023.

The exhibition displays Rego’s work during the 1980s and is called Letting Loose. The title nods to the evolution of Rego’s approach to art during this decade. Rego moved away from the process of making collages and began to make bold, richly coloured paintings, painting being her childhood passion.

It was here that she began to embrace freedom as methodology, inventing and depicting a cast of characters including animals and hybrid creatures – animals with distinctly human characteristics drawn in a caricature-like manner. These characters enhanced Rego’s ability to explore thoughts and convey stories. They provided a lighter tone for Rego to explore the dark and emotional aspects of human relationships. They also distinguish Rego from her contemporaries.

Rego was a trailblazing British-Portugese artist. She found critical acclaim in the United States and Britain in the 1980s, and in Portugal since the 1960s. Tate Britain held a retrospective on Rego’s life and work in 2021 and some of her paintings are currently on display at the National Gallery.

Drawing upon her life, politics and art history, literature, folk tales and legends, Rego explores human relationships with a critical eye.

Her most powerful works subvert gender norms and hierarchy. She directly addresses aspects of female agency, sexual desire, suffering and survival. Examples include the Dog Women series, the Abortion series 1998–99 and the recent series Female Genital Mutilation, 2008–09. The Abortion series is in fact considered to have influenced Portugal’s successful second referendum on the legalisation of abortion in 2007.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like artist Jock McFadyen: the ever-changing East End.

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