Paula Rego Abortion Paintings To Feature In MK Retrospective

Paula Rego

The first major retrospective of Paula Rego’s work in England for over twenty years will go on show at MK Gallery in Milton Keynes 15 June – 22 September 2019.

The exhibition, Paula Rego: Obedience and Defiance, will span Paula Rego’s entire career since the 1960s with more than 80 works, including never-before-seen paintings and works on paper from the artist’s family and close friends. The exhibition will run from Press Preview: Monday 10 June 2019.

Paula Rego’s remarkable, nuanced work addresses the moral challenges to humanity – Catherine Lampert

“It is very important that women have the right to choose, very important.  My abortion series is one of the most important things I have done. It is important in Portugal as it is in the rest of the world and now more than ever there is a campaign against it this has to be stopped”   – Paula Rego

Exhibition highlights include; Abortion Series (1998-9), Rego’s response to the failure of the 1998 referendum in Portugal and the government’s decision not to legalise abortion, Painting him Out (2011) which reverses the traditional art historical relationship between male artist and female muse; War (2003), Rego’s response to a newspaper photograph published in the Guardian showing the bombing of civilians in Iraq, and Angel (1998), an invented figure who avenges the death of a young girl Amélia, seduced and ill-treated by a priest. This will be the first-ever exhibition in Britain to present the paintings Rego made in the 1960s during the regime of the dictator Salazar.

Paula Rego: Obedience and Defiance
Paula Rego: Obedience and Defiance

Paula Rego: Obedience and Defiance, curated by the distinguished art historian and former director of Whitechapel Gallery, Catherine Lampert, presents paintings, pastels, drawings, and prints related to political injustices and cultural clichés in broad subjects from dictatorship to backstreet abortion and female genital mutilation.

The exhibition will subsequently travel to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (23 November 2019 to 26 April 2020), and to the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (25 May to 1 November 2020), where it will be the first-ever survey of the artist’s work in each respective country.

Curator Catherine Lampert said: “Paula Rego’s remarkable, nuanced work addresses the moral challenges to humanity, particularly in the face of violence, poverty, political tyranny, gender discrimination and grief. The selected pictures reflect her perspective as an empathetic, courageous woman and a defender of justice.”

Anthony Spira, Director of MK Gallery, said: “We are proud that we are able to bring to Milton Keynes an exhibition of the work of the extraordinary artist, Paula Rego, an artist I have long admired. And I am delighted that we are able to work with my distinguished colleague, Catherine Lampert on this ambitious project, building a first time partnership for MK Gallery with the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin.”

Born in Lisbon, Portugal, Dame Paula Rego (b. 1935) is one of Europe’s most influential contemporary figurative artists. Often taken from literature, myths, fairy tales, cartoons, theatre, current events, religious subjects and her own life, Rego’s characters confront both urgent social issues and memories of her Portuguese childhood. A contemporary of Frank Auerbach and David Hockney, Rego studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, and her career as an artist spans half a century. She currently lives and works in London, and her work is part of many public collections including the Tate Gallery, British Museum, National Gallery, the Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon and the Serralves Museum, Porto.

The new MK Gallery opened in March 2019 following a major redevelopment by 6a architects. The original MK Gallery was constructed in the late 1990s and is located at the top of Midsummer Boulevard, next to Milton Keynes Theatre. The new development retains the first structure and adds a new one, to more than double its size.

New MK Gallery, 900 Midsummer Boulevard, Milton Keynes, MK9 3QA

Paula Rego Obedience and Defiance MK Gallery 15 Jun 2019 – 22 Sep 2019

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