Lot 77
  • 77

Paula Rego

140,000 - 180,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Paula Rego
  • Chéri II
  • pastel on paper
  • 76 by 102cm.
  • 30 by 40 1/4 in.
  • Executed in 2000.


Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., London


Kendal, Abbot Hall Art Gallery; New Haven, Yale Center for British Art, Paula Rego, Celestina's House, 2001-02, no. 60, illustrated in colour
Porto, Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Paula Rego, 2004, p. 131, illustrated in colour


Claire Henry, 'Save us from tragic heroines', in: Financial Times, 4 May, 2002, p. VIII, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Paula Rego’s use of pastel surpasses all precedents - it is resplendent in its tactility, and arguably unequalled in the history of art - as Jan van Eyck was to oil painting, Paula Rego is to pastel. Since 1993 Rego has chosen to work exclusively in pastel, redefining the limits of the medium. She is an instinctive artist, working from her heart, mining her personal experiences to create powerful works that communicate breath-taking emotion. Pastel complements her spontaneous technique, allowing her to become even more intimate with the composition than paint allowed, bringing together intense subtlety and depth to her compositions.


Narrative shapes Paula Rego’s work, finding the characters that explore her emotions.  Cheri II began with a commission from the Foundation for Victims of Torture. Rego was inspired by a story she had heard about a woman who was arrested, and only survived her torture because her uncle bribed the guards to dump her in a bin liner in the rubbish. The first work in the series The Interrogators Garden depicts a fierce man in uniform with a garden in the background in which a woman stands dressing herself amongst rubbish bags. Rego developed the character of the Interrogator, eventually turning him into a little elderly woman in an exploration of gender and power relations using narrative and humour.


Bringing various aspects of the narrative together, Cheri II retains the remnants of the garden in the background, drawn in and covered over by a sheen of orange and green, Rego explores the different set of narrative possibilities with the main figures.  A small wrinkled figure is depicted, whose hat is all that is left of the uniform, looking down upon a sleeping man. The shift of power is intriguing: the woman holds the dominant position, regardless of her frailty, looking down upon the sleeping man, his legs splayed in a position of vulnerability. There is something humorous and poignant in the juxtaposition of these characters, turning the brutal general into a frail aged woman who asserts domination upon a stronger, younger man. Simply the vision of the tiny old woman in a soldier’s cap lasciviously staring at the groin of a sleeping man is darkly humorous. Reversing the idea of female domination through switching the gender and physical strength of the characters, questions the roles that are traditionally assigned to gender and age. 


This work was included in Rego's first major museum show in the US, and discussed in the financial times by Clare Henry who used it to underline the importance of Rego’s recent triumphs.