Thursday, June 5, 2014

Paula Rego

Swallows the Poisoned Apple
Pastel on paper, mounted on aluminium
178 x 150 cm
location unknown
-Fair use-

In Swallows the Poisoned Apple, Paula Rego revises the tale of Snow White to expose the fallible value of youth. Dressed in traditional Disney garb, this Snow White isn’t a beautiful princess, but a middle-aged woman. Pictured moments after eating the poisoned apple, she lays sprawled amidst overturned furniture, suggesting painful and violent demise. Clutching her skirts, she alludes to her sexual nature, as if clinging to something slipping away. Her body lies between a blanket adorned with spring blossoms, and a sinister backdrop of red and black. She  illustrates the conflict of reality encroaching on the socially imposed myths of female worth, construing aging as both a physical and psychological violation.

Dame Paula Rego DBE (1935-) is a Portuguese and British visual artist who is particularly well known for her paintings and prints based on storybooks. Her style has evolved from abstract towards representational, and she has favoured pastels over oils for much of her career. Her work often reflects an aggressive feminism, coloured by folk-themes from her native Portugal.

She was born in Lisbon. Her father was an electronics engineer; her mother studied at art school but never practised as an artist. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and was an exhibiting member of the London Group with David Hockney and Frank Auerbach. She first won acclaim in Portugal with semi-abstract paintings that sometimes included collage elements culled from her own drawings. She was the first artist-in-residence at the National Gallery in London. She lives and works in London.