Monday, December 04, 2017

Self examination

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)


  1. Wonderful work as usual, from Rego. The three aged mermaids are delightful, and it would be worth going to the exhibition just for them. The 'damage' image you have posted is very powerful indeed, as you say. It reminds me a bit of Maria Lassnig's work, another inspirational artist whose work I admire enormously.
    What an inspirational exhibition - I am envious, Olga.

    1. Yes, Eirene, the 'damage' drawings are rather in the same vein as Lassnig's self examination. They are so interesting, and I am still thinking about all the self examination work rather than the storytelling that really formed the core of the exhibition.
      Hastings is definitely worth a visit in any case - and the Jerwood is in a great position on the shore.