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The Prado gives me courage


Re-inventing my style
Paula Rego Artist
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You have to do something new all the time, something different all the time, because otherwise there comes a... he used to say that pictures come in fours. They used to say that. Vic always said. The first one is really a mess and tentative. You don’t know what you're doing. The second one, you... you’ve kind of got it. The third one is just right. The fourth one is decadent already. You don’t need it. After that, you don’t touch it any more. You start again. And I think there's a lot of truth in that, although now I've allowed myself, very, very self-indulgently, to do more than four. So I do... I carry on doing, because I change the story and do more, but really, you should just keep it to that. You know, and then start again, think again, and so on. You can't go on doing the same thing always. You just... it makes you sick. And repellent. It's repellent what you do. You can't even pick up the sticks — the pastel sticks — that you used before, because you can't bear to hold them, you see, that's it, that's horrible actually.

Portuguese painter Paula Rego (1935-2022) became part of the London Group in 1965, was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1989 and became the first Associate Artist of the National Gallery in London in 1990. Her work is strongly influenced by folk and fairy tales, especially those of her homeland.

Listeners: Catherine Lampert

Catherine Lampert is an independent curator, art historian and Visiting Professor at the University of the Arts. She was director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery (1988-2001) and has been a model for Frank Auerbach since 1978. Her recent projects include exhibitions of Rodin (Royal Academy 2006) and Lucian Freud (Dublin, Denmark and The Hague 2007-2008) as well as a book on Francis Alys (Turner Libros) and a catalogue raisonné of Euan Uglow's paintings (Yale University Press 2007).

Duration: 1 minute, 10 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2007

Date story went live: 17 July 2008