Paula Rego: Self Portrait III (image from here)
Far from a bland smiley selfie, examples of profound self examination are to be seen at the exhibition at the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings: Paula Rego - The Boy Who Loved The Sea and other stories. It is always a joy, an excitement, and an inspiration to see Paula Rego's work, and three groups of work in particular struck me when we went to Hastings yesterday.
The more powerful two were the 'damage' self portraits and the Depression pastels. Rego fell onto her face early this year, causing much damage to herself and needing hospital treatment. She became fascinated, however, in drawing herself in this state, and it was a wondrous experience to witness her curiosity through her drawings. They have been compared with Bacon's work, but the latter were metaphor while Rego's are so immediately, straightforwardly truthful - and also a look at oneself as if an object.
Paula Rego: Depression V detail (image from here)
The Depression pastels are equally powerful, but in a slightly different way. First they were a means of working through a period of depression. And then they are at a remove in that the figure is not drawn from Rego herself. Her usual model posed for them. (Eirene wrote a post about the Marlborough exhibition earlier this year here.) This time the drawings were of someone else, but about oneself - one's own feelings.
The third group that impressed me yesterday were a delight: three aged mermaids. (Image above from here)