Rest In Peace Paula Rego

The sad news that the artist Paula Rego has died…
I discovered Rego’s work in the late 1980s and it struck me like a hammer. At the time the UK art world tended to be pretty dismissive of figurative painting; a prejudice that stretched from the art schools to the art media. I too was ploughing an abstract painting furrow thinking this was the direction to push in hope of making a career as a ‘serious’ artist.
Even though I wanted to paint figuratively and I wanted to engage with social and political issues in my work I didn’t have the courage to thoroughly break out of the dead aesthetic I was drilling until I saw Rego’s work.
One of the major reasons I make what I make now, both aesthetically and regarding subject matters, is because of the last three and half decades of inspiration her work has given me. She has left a truly individual and astounding body of work that will never be sidelined by future fashions in art.
This painting was well underway when I heard she had died but was finished today, two days after the news of her passing; it would never have existed without her. The only way I can think to mark the sad news is to give it the subtitle ‘a painting for Paula’.
Thank you Paul Rego. May you rest in peace… and well remembered.

“stand back, come forward as demanded” (a painting for Paula), oil on canvas 120 x 120 cm, June 2022

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