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Paula Rego: Secrets and Stories

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Review

Painter Paula Rego is shy, quietly spoken and has rarely talked about her life, putting everything she is into her astonishing yet beautiful paintings of grisly folklore and troubled women. Brought up in Portugal, she came to London in the early 1950s ā€“ even now she reveals that her proudest moment was winning a prize at the Slade School of Fine Art in 1954. But it took decades before she was properly recognised as a serious artist in this country, at least, after a solo show at the Serpentine in the late 1980s.

This intimate film, by her son Nick Willing, with contributions from his sisters and plentiful cine-film footage, is a vivid portrait. For Dame Paula, the work is everything; no matter what the traumas of her life were ā€“ abortions, infidelity, depression ā€“ her art has been her salvation. I have one of her prints: Iā€™d love all of her canvases.

Summary

Making use of new interviews and a vast archive of home video, film-maker Nick Willing compiles an intimate portrait of his mother, the celebrated painter Paula Rego. While Rego has been notoriously private and guarded about her personal life, she opens up to her son, discussing secrets and stories from her live, which has seen her battle fascism, misogyny in art world, and manic depression. Willing's film dictates his mother's story from her native Portugal, where she used her pictures as a weapon against dictatorship, through to settling in London, where she turned her craft toward tackling women's issues such as abortion rights.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Nick Willing
Contributor Paula Rego
Director Nick Willing
Editor Nick Willing
Executive Producer Liz Hartford
Producer Michele Camarda
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Documentary

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