|| Paula Rego Evaluation ||

Well known for her artwork created based on storybooks, Paula Rego is a Portuguese artist who is still around today. Although her style has developed and refined over time, mediums Paula Rego enjoyed to work in are pastels and oils, as well as etching. This was for much of her career. She was commissioned to produce a series of large murals for her father, but her artistic career effectively began in 1962.


One of Paula Regos pieces of art that I quite like is the one above, called ‘The Policeman’s Daughter’ done in 1987 by using oil paints on a canvas. To give the painting some context, in the late 1980’s Rego created a series of paintings exploring close family relationships. Relationships within that series of paintings appear to be dysfunctional, especially those between fathers and daughters. The Saatchi Gallery explains that the policeman’s daughter is angry with him and her hand is ‘rammed  into her father’s boot as she cleans it’; however another connotation of the painting could be purely innocent, in that the daughter is simply cradling the boot as she cleans it. The neutral colours paired with the various shades of blue create an effect that makes the artwork easy to look at. The painting is of a woman sitting on a chair, in an empty room, cleaning a boot, with a cat stretching nearby. I like the use of different tomes but not traditionally put on the canvas, there is not much evidence of blending of the colours to create a smooth finish on the artwork, and instead the colours have been layered on where they should be and left in shapes. However although most of the tonal ranged in this picture are stark changes in colour, there appears to be some blending of colours on the wall to the right, around the window and the back wall; there is obvious use of different colours on the walls and they have been blended in slightly but not completely to create this highly textured illusion. There is a texture that stretches over the whole image, this I believe might have been done before she started painting, and it appears to be an almost acid-wash effect.

In my opinion, the eyes can be led around this painting in a specific path, first starting at the window with the royal blue that stands out above anything else in the painting, pushing itself away from the canvas. Then following the edges around the window, the contrast between the blue and the very light cream colour makes the grey around it seem like many, many different shades, when in reality it is only a few shades being made to appear more different because of the use of the colours around it. Eyes then move towards the woman and what she is doing, then you notice the pale blue of the table cloth on the table she’s working at. Then the boot and back down her body to her leg which is stuck out in the direction of the cat, but before noticing the cat you see the large space of colour on the floor and the different shadows cast by various things in the room. Finally you see the cat stretched out against the wall. Going anti-clockwise is the best was I would be able to describe the path one takes through this picture.


Another piece I very much like by Rego is one of her etchings of a well-known nursery rhyme ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’. The background looks like a printed texture, similar to that achieved when you roll ink on paper on print making blocks to get an impression. This texture has been placed in the back and the etching has been printed on top. The nursery rhyme goes:

Hey diddle diddle,

The Cat played the Fiddle,

The Cow jumped over the Moon,

The little dog laughed to see such sport,

And the Dish ran away with the Spoon.

 You can see all the elements that make up the nursery rhyme, make up this artwork. All the characters mentioned in the rhyme are in the art doing what it says they do. The cat playing a fiddle, the cow jumping over the room, the small dog laughing, and the dish running away with a spoon. I think this is a very pretty piece of artwork and would please anyone who looked at it. Its main purpose was to illustrate a nursery rhyme and I think she has achieved that and it would fit in a book of nursery rhymes as the art for it. The different textures and noticeable lines from the cross-hatching creates an effect which brings the artwork to life and almost gives it all a lifelike look.

This image, because there is so much going on in it seems like it would be quite hard to figure out which way the eyes are to be led, but upon closer inspection, looking at the cat first and going anti-clockwise again from there, the artwork basically reads the poem out to you. Starting with the cat as the rhyme does, then seeing the cow and moon, then the girl, which is Regos own addition to the poem. Then on to the little dog and then the dish and spoon leaving the scene. I think the poem and the artwork would all make sense if it was always seen in that order however when some people look at it they would not expect there to be any meaning behind it, and that it’s just art. Were they to look at it clockwise, they would simply see the different elements separately and not as a whole piece of art narrating a story; another reason why Rego’s art is a personal preference, because her artwork has a narrative effect, whether it be because of the base of a nursery rhyme or story or because the painting has different meanings and things happening in them that the majority of Polke’s artwork did not.


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