Paula Rego: Death of the Virgin (image from here)
In an exhibition like the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition it is inevitable to encounter works by familiar artists, either by Academicians themselves, or Honorary Academicians, or by familiar invited artists. Often the reaction is - oh, there's another one by so-and-so, and the feeling is of a so-what-ish kind. Of course this doesn't mean that the work is not good; simply that a previous example struck a more positive response. Indeed I had that reaction to the Anselm Kiefer painting in this year's exhibition.
Paula Rego: Agony in the Garden (image from here)
Four paintings by Paula Rego, however, did affect me greatly, despite my having seen so many of her similar works before.
Paula Rego: Deposition (image from here)
What hits me first is the substance. They not only are full of dimension, the paintings carry so much within them. The subtle use of materials gives on the one hand a quality of fabric in the dresses that I can feel: a stiffness of stuff, as if those dresses are the armour, support for the tender flesh within them. And on the other, the delicate but firm pencil lines outlining such as the ears, the curls of loose hair signal that tenderness.
Paula Rego: The Visitation (image from here)
There is so much here that I looked and looked for some considerable time, and felt so many reactions from exhilaration through joy to disquiet. For me these four are in a class of their own, so I shall cover the other paintings which drew my attention in a separate post.