Paula Rego’s tales unveiled at the Venice Biennale

Painting stories

Paula Rego painted stories, she needed a story to paint.

At the beginning of her career she had interest in folk tales, and in her childhood, also fear had been of value in making the art of Paula what it is. Art had, for Paula Rego, exorcised fear. Paula told that she tried to give ‘fear a face’ in her art.

When she was sixteen she went to study in Great Britain at the Slide school of art.

In London she get married and had her three children.

In 1990 Paula was the first Associate artist of the National Gallery in London, she had a studio and a stipend of one year to paint pictures related to the collection of the museum. 

She painted  The Bullfighter’s Godmother and The fitting, that took note of the girl’s dress in Jan Steen’s ‘The effect of intollerance’. 

Saint Jerome in his study of Antonello da Messina was the inspiration for Timepast and Present.

Jan Steen – The effect of the intolerance
The fitting @wikiart

Dog women

At the Biennale of Venice are displayed two of the paintings dedicated to the ‘Dog Women’. These series of paintings was created in 1994.

The idea came from a story written by a friend . It was the story of an old lady who lives alone with her pets . A voice of a wailing child down the chimney invites her to eat the dogs. The scary story was the inspiration for the Dog women.

She drew directly with the pastels onto paper and the put on the support of aluminium.

Her model was Lilia Nunes. Lila Nunes was Portuguese and  went to live as au-pair in the house of Paula, because her husband (Victor Willing) had multiple sclerose.

Paula Rego painted the Dog women as strong women, the dog is an animal similar to the human. She thought that women and persons were trained to do certain thinks , but they had also a part of animal. Their body and spirit are independent.


Biancaneve and Pinocchio

For the painting dedicated to Pinocchio, she used her own family like model. 

In many interviews Paula Rego insisted on the nature of her attachment to her childhood. Her art has to do with experience of her childhood . She painted the world of her past, the world of her childhood in Portugal.

When she was a child Pinocchio and Snowwhite were her favorite films, but her painting Snowwhite with the stepmother is dedicated to the relationship between mother and daughter.

The ‘tales of Paula Rego’ will be exposed in the blue-room at the Venice Biennale 2022 until November 2022.

if you desire to book a visit to the Biennale or discover art in Venice you can contact me.

Fiorella Pagotto