Paula Rego: Printmaker



There are two central pillars to an understanding of Paula Rego the artist. Firstly that she is pre eminently a draughts-woman of extraordinary range, both stylistically and emotionally, and secondly that she is the quintessential storyteller. Together, these two attributes make printmaking a highly appropriate medium within which to explore her fertile and often dark imagination. Rego is always a political artist insofar as she seeks to challenge the status quo, and overturn existing hierarchies but in the Abortion series, one can sense the anger and A voice demanding to be heard. It is easy to forget the rich tradition within printmaking of political discourse, including Hogarth and Daumier and more recently Kentridge. Prints can get out in the world quicker than painting, find their way into places that painting cannot and as a process that allows for multiple and therefore cheaper copies, reach a wider audience. These are essential ingredients if you want to effect change. In the introduction to the exhibition of these prints in Lisbon, Jorge Molder writes The next moment of the artist’s work does not follow any particular story: it accompanies or, better denounces a condition. Another word might have been employed because, in human things, ‘condition’ suggests a permanent state. But Paula Rego works, in this nameless moment, precisely on this permanence of things, that could and should change, and yet do not.