Essays on Paula Rego: Smile When You Think About Hell

Essays on Paula Rego: Smile When You Think About Hell Maria Manuel Lisboa

In this beautifully written monograph, Maria Manuel Lisboa explores the work of Paula Rego from various interconnected perspectives – iconographic, semiological and historiographic.This book is an urgent and necessary addition to the bibliography on Paula Rego, and an important contribution to scholarship about the artist, but also to contemporary painting, Portuguese art, feminist art, and areas of scholarship relating to the handling of the political and ideological in the visual arts.
—Ruth Rosengarten

In these powerful and stylishly written essays, Maria Manuel Lisboa dissects the work of Paula Rego, the Portuguese-born artist considered one of the greatest artists of modern times. Focusing primarily on Rego’s work since the 1980s, Lisboa explores the complex relationships between violence and nurturing, power and impotence, politics and the family that run through Rego’s art.

Taking a historicist approach to the evolution of the artist’s work, Lisboa embeds the works within Rego’s personal history as well as Portugal’s (and indeed other nations’) stories, and reveals the interrelationship between political significance and the raw emotion that lies at the heart of Rego’s uncompromising iconographic style. Fundamental to Lisboa’s analysis is an understanding that apparent opposites – male and female, sacred and profane, aggression and submissiveness – often co-exist in Rego’s work in a way that is both disturbing and destabilising.

This collection of essays brings together both unpublished and previously published work to make a significant contribution to scholarship about Paula Rego. It will also be of interest to scholars and students of contemporary painting, Portuguese and British feminist art, and the political and ideological aspects of the visual arts.



Essays on Paula Rego: Smile When You Think About Hell
Maria Manuel Lisboa | Forthcoming September 2019
ISBN Paperback: 9781783747566
ISBN Hardback: 9781783747573
ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781783747580
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 9781783747597
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 9781783747603
ISBN Digital (XML): 9781783747610
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0178
Subject codes: BIC: AFC (Painting and Paintings ), JFFK (Feminist and Feminist Theory), JPSL (Geopolitics), VFVX (Intergenerational Relationships); BISAC: ART037000 (ART / Politics), SOC010000 (SOCIAL SCIENCES / Feminist theory), POL007000 (POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES / Democracy)


Maria Manuel Lisboa is Professor of Portuguese Literature and Culture at the University of Cambridge and is a Fellow of St. John’s College, Cambridge. She is the author of seven books and of articles on Lusophone African and comparative literature, film and the visual arts. Her work focuses on themes of gender and national identity and has been awarded two prizes: the Prémio do Grémio Literário in Portugal for a monograph on the nineteenth-century writer José Maria Eça de Queirós, and the Itamaraty Prize in Brazil for an essay on the Brazilian author Lygia Fagundes Telles. With OBP she published The End of the World: Apocalypse and its Aftermath in Western Culture, her first book to focus on literature and film in English.