Drawing on the violence of her Portugese background and it’s folklore Rego’s world conjures up allegorical tales of the physical and psychological violation and repression of feminine experience through often surreal, psychologically, metaphorically and symbolically charged imagery. In these claustrophobic settings and often domestic interiors these female figures, cut off and contained by the frame of the image, often dominate the scene.
Rego’s Women have powerfully robust physiques and the characters in her paintings, drawings and prints are often portrayed in uncompromising and contorted positions including bending, kneeling, lying, squatting, cavorting, undressing. The abject appears in the form of urinating and defecating. Like Smith the female and the bestial are often interchangeable. There is something of the carnivalesque and the grotesque about Rego’s characters, the dancers that appear regularly in her work draw as much on James Ensor as they might on Degas. Rego has also made controversial work about female genital mutilation and abortion. Continue reading