Victoria Miro is delighted to participate in Art Basel OVR:20c, which is dedicated to work made between 1900 and 1999. This is the gallery’s first solo presentation by Paula Rego since announcing its representation of the artist and features rare ink and watercolour works on paper from the early 1990s.
An artist of uncompromising vision and a peerless storyteller, Paula Rego has since the 1950s brought immense psychological insight and imaginative power to the genre of figurative art. Drawing upon details of her own extraordinary life, on politics and art history, on literature, folk legends, myths and fairytales, Rego’s work at its heart is an exploration of human relationships, her piercing eye trained on the established order and the codes, structures and dynamics of power that embolden or repress the characters she depicts.
The 1990s were an especially significant period for Rego. At the very beginning of the decade she was appointed the first National Gallery Associate Artist (1989–1990); important solo exhibitions of her work were held at Fundação das Descobertas, Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, Portugal (1997) and Tate Liverpool, UK (1996–1997); and she was included in seminal group exhibitions such as Unbound: Possibilities in Painting, curated by Adrian Searle and Greg Hilty, held at the Hayward Gallery in London in 1994. The first of two The Southbank Show documentaries about the artist was broadcast in 1992, further raising her profile beyond the art world.
The works on view in this presentation see Rego continuing to explore themes from earlier in her career as well as mining new territory. The artist identifies 1993 as the year in which her work made a substantive change, borne out in major works such as The First Mass in Brazil and The Artist in Her Studio, both of which were included in the Hayward exhibition, the latter suggesting a challenge to the traditional representation of the (usually male) artist. Two studies for The Artist in Her Studio are included here, along with Study for Caritas, 1993, which relates to another key work from the period, in addition to works relating to folk and fairy tales including Study for Peter Pan and other stories, 1992, and the entrancing Study for The White Cat, 1994, in which Rego brings her unique powers as a storyteller to a tale by a seventeenth-century writer whom she regards as ‘the greatest storyteller of her time’. While many of these works are titled ‘study’, they are intricately conceived and richly executed works in their own right, integral to Rego’s creative journey and the development of her ideas.