(Paula Rego - 1935/ 2022)
I admit, a little embarrassed: I don't like graphic designers or marketing types. It's not a personal matter; it's a professional issue, as they pollute the visual landscape of our cities.
Primary colors used without aesthetic or artistic criteria, everything goes smoothly. There is not here the almost Zen rigor of a Piet Mondrian, the apparent anarchy of a suprematist canvas by Malevich, an imaginary geometric construction by Kupka, a chromatic improvisation by Kandinsky; no, none of that:
- No visual poetry, just visual pollution.
Everything that a survey or market study or Excel sheet points them to greater profits, it is certain and known that this is what they use: the intermediate customer is happy to enter the illusion with apparently scientific information and the final customer, that is, the guinea pig/ aka common man; this one is always missing.
Very bad is said in this country about the car driver.
Now, to be attentive, inside, to: clutch / brake / accelerator / gears and also to be attentive, outside, to: pedestrians / crosswalks / traffic signs / advertising, all this, forgive me, is too much for a single human being with two very busy eyes. Late reactions are often not due to bad manners - but to an endless visual pollution that is a real chaos of priorities, for those who have to decide in a split second whether to turn right, left, go ahead or simply stop.
This is related to another type of visual pollution: painting.
- Can art also be a kind of visual pollution? Answer: why not? Hitler thought so. And many other people who have nothing to do with this nefarious pseudo-democratic regime also think so, but do not say so. And the technical and artistic relativism that we are witnessing and that has irreversibly contaminated contemporary art only eternally postpones a concrete answer to a question that everyone asks, without knowing it.
And Paula Rego's work apparently fits into this restricted lot:
. The animalistic faces of the mature phase;
. The confused characters of the first phase;
. The ambiguous visual composition of characters from the vast majority of her screens;
, and his arguments and his personality only deepen the doubt: does this work, as a whole, fit into the hateful concept of “Degenerate Art” of the Nazi regime?
But there is another, more pressing and disturbing question that we must all ask ourselves: how many of these ideas correspond to deep human and social values and when will they return to public debate, in new guises, to haunt us and raise some skeletons in the closet... ? - Let us remember that countless canvases by dozens (at least) of artists were confiscated, exhibited in the face of the derision instilled in shackled populations and finally destroyed or sold out the door, yielding astronomical profits, for the sake of the war effort or the pocketbook background of some.
But is Paula Rego alone in this ambivalent list? - No. Of course Not:
Also Egon Schiele.
, or Munch and almost all the expressionists make the list.
Even the great Picasso entered this strange ball, for God's sake...
An altered view of things, of reality outside the artist. In the case of Paula Rego, a very particular view of the male/female relationship that permeates her entire work.
Although this obviously political compartmentalization is clearly indefensible, perhaps it would be beneficial to return to discussing essential concepts, in art, to change from the doldrums and uncritical acceptance of everything that astute gallerists and dealers want to inflate in the market...
At the Lisbon art school Ar.Co, where I was for half a year, posters with paintings by this painter were scattered around the painting area. I can almost swear that even on the ceiling there were reproductions of her paintings!
Because? Why would it be…?
. I don't think she was because she was a special artist.
. Not because she is loved among artists.
. Not. None of that.
The feeling I had was of a somewhat clumsy and grotesque provincialism: here was a Portuguese painter who was highly regarded in London and, from then on, an established name in the arts worldwide. The truth was this: all aspiring painters at Ar.Co wanted to be her success. It had nothing to do with purely creative inspiration.
I confess: I prefer Miró's depression. I prefer the poorly hidden depression of Picasso, and that of Joseph Beuys and that of Niki de Saint Phalle and that of many other painters.
. And do you know why?
- Because these great artists used painting as a metaphor and yes - as a therapy; but, more than a possible cure for her fragile psychological state, it was a tool for social transformation; they didn't throw their depression in my face, as if it were some vague accusation.
The difference between Francis Bacon and Paula Rego, for example, may be there:
. Francis Bacon is destructive but builds another perspective on reality;
. Paula Rego, on the other hand, builds an internal labyrinth, a web of dark feelings from which one cannot free oneself - and transfers this emotional confusion to the viewer, without the filter of transformation and sublimation so intrinsically artistic.
So, what in other artists is an advanced creative lever, in Rego's work it remains at the first stage and the creative instrument itself becomes a final objective. In other words, the inner destruction assumes itself as a vicious circle that feeds itself.
And if at this point in his life he still hasn't managed to free himself from this psychological state, I'm afraid he never will. It's a pity. It's a shame for his personal life.
- But it's an even greater pity that a country with such brilliant talents in visual arts - many of them still criminally unknown to public opinion thanks to the mafia system and fashion follower via USA USA! current - continue to live in its shadow, and your work shows a distorted vision, and why not say it, something unhealthy, of someone who looks at life through a blurred lens, believing that this is the reality.
(I seem to have to apologize for openly saying what a lot of people certainly think and don't have the shame to say – that Portogueza School of silence)
They will tell me that this always happens, that every genius artist feels it in an excessive and unhealthy way. Yes, I agree that it is to a large extent.
Is she a huge painter? Yes she is. Make no mistake, no one has them. Great talent of world figurative painting.
- Vieira da Silva was loved;
- Well, Paula Rego is just envied.
And that made - and still does - all the difference in the world...