Dates / Schedules
20 June to 10 September 2023
Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Temporary exhibition Floor 0
The acquisition by the State Contemporary Art Collection of the work O Impostor by Paula Rego and its deposit at the Centro Cultural de Belém are the primary reasons for this presentation of a set of works from the artist’s earliest period of production.
From the beginning of her career, Paula Rego’s work was based on the possibility of telling stories and articulating narratives in each of her paintings. Never clear or explicit, these stories (which could have their origin in newspaper reports, a personal or family event, or a reference to political developments) are treated in successive layers of paint and overlapping collages, variously revealing and concealing characters. Anticipating the emphasis on the narrative capacity of images that the artist would develop throughout her later career, this initial form of Paula Rego’s work is free, strange and complex, in the sense that the palimpsest of successive layers of collage and the concealments they provoke make the painting more ambiguous, and unquestionably more psychological and obscure.
The set of paintings and drawings that contextualise the work O Impostor dates from between the late 1950s and 1965, with the inclusion of a small sculpture from the following decade which, in its relationship with the earlier figuration, paves the way for the painting that was to follow.
Two themes stand out in the set of paintings on show: political references, present in O Impostor and in the Triptych, as well as in O Sr. Vicente e a sua esposa, the latter bearing the date 1928 as the founding moment of the dictatorship, in a clear allusion to Óscar Carmona’s accession to the Presidency; and collage as a method of composition, which allows the coexistence of diverse visual sources, united in a single psychological and autobiographical thread. Also worthy of mention is the inclusion in this small exhibition of a completely new painting, undated but certainly from the 1950s (recognisable by its similarity to drawings the artist had made since 1953 while still a student at the Slade School in London), which has the particularity of being painted on both sides of the canvas, with a reclining female figure on the back that foreshadows her much later figurative painting.
We offer our deepest thanks to the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Maria Ana Pimenta, and Carolina Pimenta, who allowed us to create this focus on Paula Rego, centred around O Impostor.
Paula Rego, O Impostor, 1964 (detail). State Contemporary Art Collection, in deposit at the Centro Cultural de Belém.
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