Tate Britain one-woman show draws discordant criticism in London press


“From today, painting is dead. So go to the famous words of the 19th century history-painter Paul Delaroche when he saw photography enter the art scene.

It wasn’t a wild prediction given to the photographer Andres Serranois possible National Foundation for the Arts reward for sticking a small crucifix in a pot of his urine and calling it Piss Christ. But painting never really died. Shock art like Serrano’s just stole the show for a while. Tate Britain’s retrospective of the work of figurative artist Paula Rego, scheduled to open this week, leaves no doubt that the painting is alive.

Upside down

Rego’s imagery of predominantly female figures has been characterized as feminist. But the stories she tells of equal parts suffering and strength seem darker than any social movement. I think about Dog WomenA vision of such howling heartache that the words describing it don’t work. As Rego said The observer reporter Kate Kellaway, “You discover things in the making of a painting. It can reveal things that you didn’t expect. Things that you keep secret to yourself.

The Guardian art critic Jonathan jones understands, and imagines that the torn women who dominate Rego’s images “dictated by an invisible man, growling orders”. But as charged as his words are, they don’t explain what you are seeing.

He admits it, saying his photos are “worryingly impossible to solve.”

Twisted sister?

british art critic Alistair Sooke, writing for the Telegraph, takes a completely different take on Rego’s images, and with such anger it borders on hatred for women. He begins by downplaying her as “a fierce deity for the MeToo Generation”And despising his numbers as“ stubborn senhoritas ”- a reference to his Portuguese origins.

Sooke, apparently instead of all men, makes the pain of Rego’s labor his own, not his. for what he sees as a denigration of men and his men at fault for “abusing women, controlling and manipulating them, denying their natural desires”. To make sure you see how vicious she is, Sooke says that in Wars of the Sexes, “she’s a five-star general, an Amazonian queen, the avenging angel of feminism.” Clearly he forgets that Rego was raised under the Antonio de Oliveira Salazarthe dictatorship of.

If she denigrates anything, it’s the censorship and those who watch it.

How different are the views of leading UK art critics? Let me count the ways with this example painting by Rego The policeman’s daughter. Watching the daughter polish her father’s high black boot, it helps to remember how overwhelming it was for Rego to live under SalazarRule.

Father-related issues

What you see in the girl’s effort to polish is one of her arms stretched out so far inside the boot that it almost wraps around her. And because her eyes are on the task, you can’t tell what she’s thinking. Jones sees its closed expression as the emblem of an “oppressive and dishonest society where comical complications pile up like dust on a patriarchthe boot. Sooke sees the girl “doing something obscene with her father’s leather boot.” There, no surprise.

What he sees in all of Rego’s works are “wicked children, driven by rebellious instincts, thwarted sexual urges and murderous urges.”

Say what?

But wait, Sooke ends his review on a positive note, as if he thinks it’s best to shoot down all of Rego’s retro like a crybaby female complaint. While once again denigrating his work, calling it “excessively illustrative”, he concludes “it is an excellent exhibition”. Go figure it out.


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