Paula Rego, a painter and printmaker, is one of the most celebrated artists working in Britain. She was born in Lisbon in 1934. Her childhood in Portugal was a mixture of upper middle class privilege (her father an engineer and anglophile) and the compafny of servants. The Portugal she grew up in was under the dictatorship of Salazar, a country held in tension and somewhat isolated from the rest of Europe. She attended an English school in Portugal before being sent to a finishing school in Kent. From there she went on to study at the Slade under William Coldstream in the company of students who were to become leading figures in the British art scene; Craigie Aitchison, Michael Andrews, Euan Uglow and her future husband Victor Willing.
Later she married the painter Victor Willing and settled in London permanently.
Paula Rego paints a world of dark fairy tale where childhood stories are thin guises for psycho-sexual intrigue and taboo, her work always has a sense of magical realism. Rego's style is often compared to cartoon illustration.
The Maids. The idea of the painting came to Paula Rego from Jean Genet’s play The Maids (1947), which was based on the real-life story of the Papin sisters, Christine and Lea, who worked as maids for a rich Parisian family. One day, frightened for no apparent reason of a power cut, they brutally murdered the mother and daughter of the family while the man of the house was out at work. Paula Rego seems to have focused on the unnatural closeness of the sisters, both to each other and the mother and daughter they murder.
The Fitting. The Fitting is a scene of fairytale romance turned nightmare. Reminiscent of Velasquez’ Las Meninas, Paula Rego uses loaded imagery and symbolism to create a surreal mystery for the unravelling.
The Interrogator's Garden. Paula Rego’s The Interrogator’s Garden was Originally commissioned by the Foundation For Victims of Torture