Paula Rego  

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"To be a dog woman is not necessarily to be downtrodden; that has very little to do with it. In these pictures every woman's a dog woman, not downtrodden, but powerful. To be bestial is good. It's physical. Eating, snarling, all activities to do with sensation are positive. To picture a woman as a dog is utterly believable."--Paula Rego on Dog Woman, quoted in McEwen, p.216.

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Paula Rego (1935 – 2022) was a Portuguese-born artist known for such paintings as The Dance (1988), Nursery Rhymes (1989), Dog Woman (1994) and War (2003).

Rego's style evolved from abstract towards representational, and she favoured pastels over oils for much of her career. Her work often reflects feminism, coloured by folk-themes from her native Portugal. Some of her paintings and prints are based on storybooks.

Rego studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, and was an exhibiting member of the London Group, along with David Hockney and Frank Auerbach. She was the first artist-in-residence at the National Gallery in London. She lived and worked in London.

She started painting at the age of four. Her work often gives a sinister edge to storybook imagery, emphasizing malicious domination or the subversion of natural order. She deals with social realities that are polemic, an example being her important Triptych (1998) on the subject of abortion, now in the collection of Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal.

Rego's style is often compared to cartoon illustration. As in cartoons, animals are often depicted in human roles and situations. Later work adopts a more realistic style, but sometimes keeps the animal references — the Dog Woman series of the 1990s, for example, is a set of pastel pictures depicting women in a variety of dog-like poses (on all fours, baying at the moon, and so on).

Rego has also painted a portrait of Germaine Greer, which is in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

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