Paula Rego: Jane Eyre and Other Stories
Marlborough Fine Art, London. 15 October-22 November 2003.
Reaction to the Iraqi War in the West has been
strangely muted among artists. In England, Paula Rego has produced
a pastel at Marlborough Fine Art, which accompanies a new set of
25 lithographs, drawing inspiration from Charlotte Bronte's novel
Jane Eyre. The Iraq pastel is different, and deploys the
distinctive imagery of human victims as a kind of menagerie of performing
marionettes, wearing animal masks. In this spook-ridden house (where
Jane Eyre was employed as governess), the pastel 'War'
offers key figurative images taken from European traditions of religious
art and their taboos: a loopy rabbit acts as an anxious pietà
dressed in the blue garments traditional to the Virgin.
Rego describes her own graphically active hand as a seismograph,
setting down the traumatic turbulence of her affected mind. 'War'
reflects just such a psychological tremor, and such images from
the 'bunny' world (or is it, as one commentator claims,
the world of Richard Kelly's film 'Donnie Darko'?) are
moving effects of a war drift profoundly distressing.