Acclaimed Portuguese-British Artist Dame Paula Rego Dies Aged 87

Paula Rego, the internationally acclaimed Portuguese-born British artist, died at the age of 87.

The Victoria Miro gallery announced on June 8 that Rego “died peacefully this morning, after a short illness, at home in North London, surrounded by her family.”

Born in 1935 during the dictatorship of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, Rego was “one of Europe’s most influential contemporary figurative artists,” according to the Royal Academy.

Known primarily for her subversive artworks, Rego spent her career focusing on women’s rights, particularly, abortion.

Rego held her first major solo exhibition at the AIR Gallery in London in 1981.

In 1989, Rego became the first associate artist in the National Gallery, establishing her as one of Britain’s greatest living painters and figurative artists worldwide.

In 2010, Queen Elizabeth II made Rego a Dame of the British Empire for services to the arts, and Rego described the honor as a “great recognition.”

Casa das Historias Paula Rego, a gallery dedicated to the artist, said that the Municipal Council of Cascais President will decree a day of mourning on June 9.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said Rego’s death was “a national loss.”

“For many decades Paula Rego was not just very important in Portugal and in England, where she lived and where I visited her in her studio in 2016, but rather throughout the world,” de Sousa further said, as quoted by The Guardian.

Theater designer Grace Smart, one of Rego’s granddaughters, said on Twitter that Rego was “a fantastic and world-changing artist and grandma.”

“It’s an honor to have been a small part of her work and to have her as such a huge part of my life,” Smart added.

Rego is survived by her three children and five granddaughters.


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