This period coincided with a number of personal, social and artistic changes that aroused in Rego a sense of freedom in regard to the expectations imposed on her about the way of "making art". These changes led to a reformulation of her working process (the narrative universe and the formal treatment of her works). Her desire for artistic liberation, for "doing things more directly", would lead her into a space of greater proximity to herself, to her life beyond painting. The presence of these emotions and her confrontation with them through painting established a radically new visual language for telling her stories, creating a complex and ambiguous universe in which animals were creatures with human qualities and behaviours, thrust into peculiar situations, vivid dramas that noisily invaded her painting.
For this reason, the complex plots that she creates in her paintings can only be revealed between the lines. The ambiguity is reinforced by the duplicitous condition that Paula Rego confers upon the animals that she portrays and that, on the one hand, preserve their singularity, while, on the other, they further combine this with their humanisation, founded on relational stereotypes. And the animals can be used in this way because human emotions are easily recognisable in them through the associations that come from popular culture, especially from fables, and which are established immediately.
In all of these works in which the animal is presented as our other, seen from the outside or from the inside, in any of the stories narrated by Rego, there is always a questioning, but also a crude and frequently brutal revelation of human nature and the relationships that humans establish between one another, whether they are based on family, love or politics. The artist makes use of the nature of animals to strip the narratives of any reductive sentimentalism.
Curatorship: Catarina Alfaro