A Visit to the New Museum in Lisbon -Paula Rego

“A Portuguese female Artist’s fairytale legend, threes nothing quite like Dame Paula’s magical Museum” 


The new museum of Paula Rego’s is located in Cascias just along the coast from the City of Lisbon. The Journey from the City Centre by train takes roughly about half an hour and is a beautiful coastal trip with wonderful views of the famous beaches and panoramic seafronts. Somewhat reminds me of the late Picasso’s retreat to Antibes, along the south coast of France to paint.


The Climate is just right, sunshine sea with gorgeous beaches and frivolity alongside Paula’s new museum which is set in her home town Cascias where I was told she still has a home and studio. The new museum is a state of the Art – architecture redbrick coloured striking building, and could even resemble the Ndebele women artist’s primitive structures in South Africa in form and structure. The Vision with the Architect was no doubt conceived very much by Paula’s inspiration and chooses of Architect to house her permanent collection.

The Permanent Collection:

The museums house’s a large collection of her lifetimes work, and is a magnificent historical tale of her Life as an Artist. It demonstrates her abilities, within the art of printmaking and as a world class outstanding painter, the only other female visionary with such a world class hard hat, must be Zarah Hadid the Arab Architect. Her highly original style, sometimes described as her ability to deal with the human condition as a woman and the human tradgies with darkness? In the art form of storytelling through her graphic works, it is in the series of prints from lithographs to etchings and engravings illustrate her mythological stories in a unique dark and humorous language that shapes her iconic images of life’s dramas.

 As it would be so nice to see a women in at the Royal College of art as at that time there were few women of any great reputation.. Nothing like the Dame she is today! So Professor Alistair Grant did invite her to judge the work of that year around 1984, when her paintings transferred wonderfully from lithographic prints with her drawing abilities describing the tales, with frenzied and vibrant colours and fantastic nature of images emerge from the Artists imagination narrative storytelling, which leads onto the later works which gather, a very much more figurative style, Balthes like. 

1994-2007 with more densely populated compositions the two large triptych’s throw light on her childhood years of Portuguese memories , and brings you to realize like no other female Artist , she is the only real one from Portugal , unlike Spain whom has many highly acclaimed International Artists alongside Picasso.

Here in her own museum you can see how Portugal and the culture with her upbringing have shaped her unique original way of working. Some of the early paintings / mixed media collage works reminded me of the early works of Abstract expressionist American painter Ashley Gorky for example her work “The Exile” 1963, when Gorky himself was an exile in the USA.

It is exciting to see the progress and development of her Career as an Artist, in her own Portuguese Heritage, and not always a figurative Artist.

A large room in the collections centre takes the period of the 1980’s into the arena, the days when I was a student at the Royal College of Art‘s printmaking department and worked to pay my way through college, at a restaurant in Covent Gardens, when after work I first sighted her work in a small art gallery in Covent Garden, after leaving work. It was this period of work that most fanasinated me “Animal Theatres “that really excited me and drew me to find out more about her as an Artist. From the paintings of “The Red Monkey” and the “Rigoletta “series the Operas, a real inspiration took me top ask my head of department if “She” could be our external examiner

The new museum is a real triumph to her success as a world class female Artist, and viewed under one magnificent state of the art museum the collection leaves you with an understanding and lasting impression of her life-time of work. I believe it cost in the region of four million to build and in the last ten months since its opening over 100,000 people have visited the museum. This makes for another great world class player in Portugal’s legends with footballer’s t-shirts on every street corner, she is a leader with the Culture of Artists, and bohemian life-styles rich for the many visitors that take the wonderful journey to view a wonderful collaboration between Artist and Architecture a see her exhibits a very powerful permanent collection of her life Arts work in her home town Cascais, Portugal.



  • Exhibition details -Paula Rego is currently showing –  Marlborough Art Gallery

6 Albemarle Street, London  W1S 4BY United Kingdom 7th July -20th August

The Directors of Marlborough Fine Art are delighted to announce their forthcoming exhibition of new work by Paula Rego from 7th July – 20th August.  This is her first solo exhibition in London since 2006.The exhibition has three separate strands: the first will be the Oratorio, a mixed media Triptych with a central panel and two wings which Paula created for her recent joint exhibition with Tracey Emin and Matt Collishaw at the Foundling Museum earlier this year.  In addition to the Oratorio, there will be six large conté works on paper relating to the Oratorio and its Foundling Museum origins. The second strand is made up of a further nine conté works on paper which the artist has completed, following on from the Foundling pictures, in which she explores a variety of new themes entitled The Birthday Party, The Dolls Playground, The Overseer and others. The third strand is a group of nineteen etchings executed in monochrome and then hand painted in multiple different colours.   As Tom Rosenthal writes in his introduction to the catalogue “Such is Rego’s mastery of this medium that, by altering only the colours but not the outline she can alter the mood of the subject and thus its contents.  As she has said: “They become different parts of a different story….”

Paula Rego, who was created a Dame of the British Empire in the recent Honours list will have a major Retrospective Exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Monterrey, Mexico, opening there on 30th September 2010 which will subsequently be shown at the Pinacoteca in Sao Paulo, Brazil opening there in March 2011.

A fully illustrated catalogue will be published with an introduction by Tom Rosenthal, author of Paula Rego: The Complete Graphic Work.

For further information and photographs, please contact John Erle-Drax, Frankie Rossi or Mary Miller: jdrax@marlboroughfineart.com; frossi@marlboroughfineart.com; mmiller@marlboroughfineart.com

Paula’s  retrospective later in the year.

    30 October 2010 until 23 January 2011

Retrospective exhibition at Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Monterrey, Mexico and then travelling to the Pinacoteca, Sao Paulo, Brazil, opening from 19 March – 26 June 2011, curated by Marco Livingstone.


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