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Arnolfini - est 1961
Mist I (from Pendle Witches series)
Paula Rego 1996
etching and aquatint
plate size 35.8 x 29.5 cm / paper size 67.5 x 52.1 cm
Edition of 30
Courtesy Paula Rego and Cristea Roberts Gallery, London
©️ Paula Rego


Arnolfini welcome you to venture into the extraordinary imagination of Dame Paula Rego RA, one of the leading figurative artists of our generation.

Rego makes a welcome return to Bristol (almost 40 years after her first exhibition here in 1982-83), creating an opportunity for a new generation of visitors to explore the artist’s rich and imaginative world. Featuring over 80 prints from across Rego’s extensive career, the exhibition explores her interweaving wit and dark humour, delving into the art of storytelling through Rego’s reinterpretations of well-known narratives and classic tales, repositioning the role of women at their centre.

Subversive Stories also looks deeper at Rego’s mastery of the printed medium, exploring the process of printmaking as it informs Rego’s multi-layered interpretations, bringing shadowy readings to childish mischief, whilst casting a light on present-day politics, most notably those affecting women.

Bringing together early examples of experiments in etching and lithography, her much-loved series Nursery Rhymes, Peter Pan, Jane Eyre and the Pendle Witches, and less familiar stories, such as The Prince Pig and The Curved Planks, Rego pulls us into a world of not so ‘wicked’ women, childhood adventure, and folklore and fairy tales, in which the underdog reigns supreme, as Rego reinforces her reputation, taking ‘the side of the beauty not the beast.’

Please note: this exhibition includes images that explore sexuality, abortion, and the practice of female genital mutilation.

About Paula Rego:
Paula Rego was born in Lisbon in 1935. After attending finishing school in Kent, England, she studied at the Slade School of Art in London between 1952–56. In 1957 she returned to live in Portugal with her husband, the painter Victor Willing, and their three children, before finally settling in London in 1963. Rego came to prominence in Britain after her first major solo exhibition at the Air Gallery, London, in 1981 and subsequently at the Serpentine Gallery, London in 1988, which was followed by her becoming the first National Gallery artist in residence in 1990.

In 2009 The Casa das Histórias, a museum dedicated to Rego, opened as a permanent home to the artist’s entire collection of over 200 prints alongside drawings, preparatory works and paintings loaned by the artist.

Major solo exhibitions and retrospectives have been key to Rego’s extensive career, with her work housed in major public and museum collections all over the world.

Rego explores themes of power, rebellion, sexuality and gender, grief and poverty, often through female protagonists. One of the most important figurative artists of her generation, her work ranges from painting, pastel, and prints to sculptural installations.

Paula Rego is represented by Cristea Roberts Gallery, the worldwide representative for her original prints and Victoria Miro, representatives of original works.

Gallery Guides:
Gallery Guides are available to pick up at Arnolfini, with large text versions available too, or download a copy below. Audio Descriptions are available throughout the Galleries.











Archive Poster from Paula Rego’s exhibition at Arnolfini 1983/84.

Copies available from Arnolfini Bookshop.






From Cristea Roberts Gallery, Making a Mark, a new podcast series exploring the relationship between artists and printmaking.

Listen to Making a Mark / Paula Rego: One of the greatest figurative artists of her generation, who places women at the centre of her work ( here


You Are Now the Storyteller:
Paula Rego’s work is well-known for retelling classic stories, fairy tales and nursery rhymes. We invite you to do the same or create your own, original tale. Pick up a free copy of You Are Now the Storyteller when you’re visiting Arnolfini or download below.

We would love you to share your creations with us, just tag @ArnolfiniArts into socials, #ArnolfiniArts.

Huge thanks to Arnolfini team member Jade Harding for producing such wonderful designs for the Mindful Colouring and You Are Now the Storyteller guides.

Download you copy of Arnolfini and Paula Rego – You Are Now the Storyteller here


Audio Descriptions
There are audio descriptions of the works in the exhibition, accessible via QR Code in all the Galleries.

You can also hear them here:



Paula Rego: Subversive Stories: Exhibition Slideshow

Look at the works in our exhibition through our slideshow:



Read/ watch interviews, reviews and features about Paula Rego: Subversive Stories below