Remembering Paula Rego

Memories from the Foundation’s UK Branch Trustee, Martin Essayan, on the death of the extraordinary Portuguese-British artist Paula Rego.
09 jun 2022

Paula Rego, Angel, 1998 © Carlos Pombo


Paula Rego (1935-2022)

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation wishes to express its profound condolences at the death of Paula Rego, one of the most extraordinary Portuguese-British artists with whom the Foundation maintained close ties ever since she was a Gulbenkian grant holder in the 1960s.


Martin Essayan, UK Branch Trustee, said:

We at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation are proud of our long relationship with Paula Rego. Her death saddens us all.

I have many strong memories of Paula and heard more from my father. Seeing her was always memorable. However, if I was to pick one it would be at an exhibition of one of her largest and most graphic paintings which she had not seen for over a quarter of a century. Both of us happened to be standing in front of it and were sufficiently close that our entire field of vision was occupied by the many disturbing figures stretching from wall-to-wall. She was looking at it in a way I could not interpret. So I asked her what it was like seeing it again after so long. She held me with those deep eyes and said pointing to her head: “Oh, it is still all in here”. She waited for the implications to sink in and then gave a big smile. What an amazing woman. We will all miss her a lot.

Read a full memoir from the Foundation

Cookies settings

Cookies Selection

This website uses cookies to improve your browsing experience, security, and its website performance. We may also use cookies to share information on social media and to display messages and advertisements personalised to your interests, both on our website and in others.