Rego travels from brutal satire to figures so real you feel you know them in an unmissable, lifetime-spanning survey
Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar is a bloated sac, a sort of human bagpipe, vomiting and shitting through a long tube coming out of his arse. Unless it is a mouth, down there in the bottom left-hand corner of Paula Rego’s painting from 1960. There’s another figure in the middle, like a rotten mango with pubes and what looks like a giant, hairy testicle. I think it is supposed to be a woman. Salazar Vomiting the Homeland, the earliest painting in Rego’s show at the new Milton Keynes Gallery, is but the first in a room filled with angry, dirty, nasty paintings made as a response to the repression and mediocrity of living under Salazar’s regime.
Image: Paula Rego, Dog Woman, 1952