Biography for Dame Paula Rego (1935)

A powerful original female voice, Paula Rego is now one of Europe's most sought after artists. A painter of 'stories', her characters enact a variety of roles and depict disquieting tensions below the surface. Her work, large pastel paintings and sharply drawn etchings, express an extraordinary range of emotions and experiences.

In 2003, Paula’s Jane Eyre series was exhibited at Marlborough Fine Art in October 2003 coinciding with the publication of Paula Rego - The Complete Graphic Workby Thomas Neurath for Thames & Hudson. A major Retrospective exhibititon of paintings, prints and drawings from 1997-2004 was on show at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Oporto, from October 2004-January 2005.

An exhibition of Paula's work including her triptych The Pillow Man was shown at Tate Britain from 27 October 2004 - 2 January 2005 which was the first in Tate Britain’s new biennial series of concise exhibitions featuring the work of senior British artists. The exhibition included early work responding to the political climate in Portugal of the 1960's; Triptych 1998 - a response to the referendum in Portugal on the question of legalising abortion and more recent paintings.

Paula Rego's painting War and selected prints were on view at the Only Make-Believe exhibition at Compton Verney, Warwickshire from 25 March - 5 June 2005.  Paula's series of large scale drawings, entitled Human Cargo, were shown at the Marlbrough Chelsea Gallery, New York, April - May 2008.  The catalogue introduction includes an interesting insight into Paula's work by the curator Marco Livingstone: First Principles.  A recent publication by John McEwen entitled Behind the Scenes offers an interesting new approach to Paula's work through the studio and the models instillations that she uses.

In 2007-08 a Paula Rego Retrospective exhibition was held at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, 25 September – 30 December, curated by Marco Livingstone which then travelled to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington. A retrospective of Paula’s Graphic work was shown at the Ecole Superieure des Beaux-Arts, Nimes in 2008.

Her work was included in The Artist’s Studio at Compton Verney, Warwickshire, in 2009, curated by Giles Waterfield.    Paula’s Hogarth Triptych Marriage a la Mode from the Tate Britain's collection and other related works were shown at the exhibition Decadence, the Rake’s Progress at the Dunkers Kulturhus, Helsingborg, Sweden, 23rd October 2009 until February 2010.

On 18 September 2010, the inaugural exhibition of Paula’s work was held at the Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais, built by the celebrated architect Eduardo Souto de Moura including Paula’s massive piece Oratorio, which was shown in London earlier in the year.

Another Retrospective exhibition curated by Marco Livingstone was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Monterrey, Mexico, September 2010 – March 2011 which travelled to the Pinacoteca de Sao Paulo, Brazil from 19 March – 5 June 2011.

The Gulbenkian Museum in Paris held a Paula Rego Retrospective from 26 January - 30 March 2012 and in the same year Marlborough Fine Art held her exhibitionBalzac and other Stories from 29 May – 30 June.

The first major book by John McEwen on Paula Rego was published by  Phaidon Press Ltd. In 1992, this has subsequently been updated and published in paperback three times.   Paula has an extensive bibliography which can be requested to the gallery.

In 2010 Paula was created a Dame of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, the year she also won the Mapfre Foundation Drawing Prize, Madrid.  Paula lives and works in London.