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Dame Paula Rego DBE


"It was an exhibition at the beginning of the Eighties that made her conspicuous. It was comic and disturbing; a frightening sequence of paintings of delinquent monkeys, horribly human in its implications.

"Her figures occupy one's mind as a troubled extended family might. She explores strained, sometimes incestuous, relationships and her painted children share an unerving maturity. She appears like them - in a topsy-turvy way - a child-like grown up. But there is nothing innocent about her mind. She sees children as knowing without knowing, she beleives they are 'not boring, not tedious in any way; they don't impose. They know about things, they certainly know fear and don't pretend they don't.'

"Fear animates Rego's paintings; sometimes, I suggest, there is even a kind of glee in it. She disagrees. 'I think the fear comes in the act of doing the picture, in the physical act of painting. I am terrified it won't come off.' The painting begins in adrenaline: 'When you have an idea for a picture, you’re very, very excited. You don't want to cry or laugh but you want to get it down. You get someone to sit - it is a question of arrangement.' "

Kate Kellaway

Crumpled from the 'Guardian' series of the
Jane Eyre portfolio
Lithograph, 90.8 x 69.8cm

La ligue des Rats, from the 'Sensuality of the Stone' series of the Jane Eyre portfolio
Lithograph, 59 x 45.5cm