Paula Rego ‘Secrets and Stories’

Culture on Dutch TV: ‘Close Up’


The cashier at my local organic supermarket noticed my paint-splattered pants and remarked: ‘Ben jij een beoefenaar van de schone kunsten?’ (Are you a practitioner of the visual arts?). ‘Well, lets just say I’ve never fully matured and still spend my days playing with colors.’ I answered. This led to a discussion of color and he asked if I had seen the recent Dutch TV program ‘Close UP’?  ‘No’ I answered but that evening I checked it out.

The subject was an Australian photographer that filmed ‘Holi’ the Hindu festival in India that takes place in the early spring and is characterized by an outrageous celebration of color. Color is thrown, dumped, splashed and bathed in. It covers everyone involved including elephants, buildings and anything else in the way. It was thrilling to see and afterwards I continued to search around in the listings and see what else might catch my eye. Quickly I found a documentary focussed on a contemporary artist that always fascinated me and whom and I knew very little about: Paula Rego


Raw and Intense


Paula Rego was always an artist circling on the edge of my consciousness. I would see her work intermittently in books, exhibitions, catalogues and almost always found it raw and intense, but also very, very good. I often wondered about the source of her pained imagery. Her works were always realistically well painted, (although she worked for many years as an abstract artist) often bringing the drawings of the German artist Kathe Kollwitz to mind.

So it was fascinating to discover the story behind her painted stories in this wonderful documentary. It tells of her childhood in Portugal, ‘A terrible country for women’ as her father once remarked. Her studies at the Slade School of Art in London, her troubled marriage, her depression and her personal tragedies.

Her paintings are not always easy to look at. She exposes her perverse fantasies and the difficult truths that most of us cover up or turn away from. But these are paintings you will find difficult to ignore.

Don’t miss it! ‘Paula Rego: ‘Secrets and Stories’

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