The Barn
Date 1994
Medium Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions 270 x 190 cm
Inventory ID UID 102-477
From 1952 to 1956, Rego studied at the Slade School of Art in London, where she met Victor (Vic) Willing, who became her husband. They returned to Portugal until 1962, then lived in both countries. In 1976 she established her permanent residence in London, but she has only been well known in Great Britain since the 1980s. In 1988, a first retrospective took place at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon and the Serpentine Gallery in London. In 1994, the exhibition at the Marlborough and her participation in the exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery gave her further fame. The Barn, belonging to the Berardo Collection, follows the rules of the strongest paintings from this period: the fundamental reference is a story that only the artist knew and that is shown to us in a moment of dramatic tension, a theatrical moment. She indeed worked with theatrical costumes in order to stimulate what she called her lack of imagination. Paula Rego’s paintings resist the usual classifications of art by means of a reappropriation of representation. ‘Naturalism is completely out of style, but that doesn’t matter to me,’ she has said. Rego, who denounced the dictatorship in Portugal in the 1960s and 1970s, engaged –in both life and painting – in debates on the society of her country of origin, such as the fight in favour of the legalization of abortion. She defined herself as both English and Portuguese. ‘There’s a part of me, the part that speaks in Portuguese, brings memories back that I don’t have if I speak in English. But as for poetry for instance, I understand the language in English rather than Portuguese.’ J-FC