Studio Sunday: Paula Rego

A photo of several works in Paula Rego's studio


Today’s Studio Sunday focuses on the studio of Paula Rego. Rego was born in Lisbon, Portugal and now lives and works in London. The artist’s works are figural and frequently symbolic, taking a cue from classical paintings of mythology to paint contemporary scenes that tell complex stories.


Rego also incorporates soft, stuffed dolls into her studio work, sometimes using them to guide her poses in the place of a model. In the photo above, a few dolls seem piled together, perhaps performing a scene or perhaps waiting to be posed for an upcoming painting. It seems like it would be quite convenient to have these life-sized facsimiles around if you weren’t able to hire a model when you needed one to pose for a painting. Perhaps painting from these props and dolls is also part of why Rego’s paintings take on a not-quite-realistic appearance. Like the surreal portraiture of some of our own artists, Rego's figures are stylized and bizarre at times.  


Rego’s works tend to explore psychology and femininity through a contemporary lens. While her paintings are figural, they always keep a certain magical, almost naïve stylistic approach. It’s this sense of slight magic that makes the artist’s studio seem rather inviting. I really enjoy the open ceiling that is depicted in this photo. What a great way to bring natural light into the studio while still keeping as much wall space as possible! It looks like Rego’s studio is quite spacious as well, allowing the artist to easily move around and work on several paintings or figures at once.  There’s a chair sitting in front of the painting in the back of this photo – perhaps Rego was in the middle of working on it when this photo was taken.

[image source]

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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