Coming soon – Paula Rego and Francisco de Goya

Uncanny Visions: Paula Rego and Francisco de Goya
27 September 2024 – 5 January 2025

The Holburne presents a major exhibition exploring the notion of the uncanny in the work of Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828) and Paula Rego (1935–2022) this autumn.

The first exhibition to display Goya’s Los disparates (The Follies) (1815-1823), and Rego’s Nursery Rhymes (1989) in their entirety will also include a selection of Rego’s three-dimensional objects – sculptures and studio props.

Included in the exhibition, on public view for the first time, is a display of Goya etchings that Rego herself owned and which hung around her bed, making these the first and last images that she gazed upon every day.

Both Goya and Rego have long been associated with the concept of the uncanny. Themes and imagery present in the work of both artists are rooted in popular and folkloric elements and draw on a feeling of disconcerting and unsettling familiarity, be it through the absurdity of social rules – as observed by Goya – or the ruthlessness of childhood verses, as noted by Rego.

The exhibition presents Goya’s Los disparates (The Follies) (1815-1823), a set of prints that has received considerably less attention and exposure to the public eye than his other series, alongside Rego’s complete Nursery Rhymes, a series of over 30 etchings and aquatints produced in 1989, as well as five additional prints made in 1994 to accompany an illustrated publication by Thames & Hudson.

Exploring how two artists living a century apart resorted to similar visual motifs and narrative devices to convey a universal range of human emotions, the exhibition examines how Goya’s influence on Rego, acknowledged by the artist herself, is apparent through the media and techniques she employed as well as through some of her themes and aesthetics. Visitors to this major exhibition will observe how Rego’s unique visual translation of traditional nursery rhymes, taught to young children, presents a degree of irony and a sinister touch close to the spirit of Goya.

In addition to the uncanny, the exhibition explores notions common to both artists such as absurdity and satire, folklore, humour, violence, sensuality, deception, the supernatural, anthropomorphism and animalisation. It includes rarely-seen drawings and three-dimensional objects – sculptures and studio props – by Rego that are equally indebted to Goya in their depiction of mythical and fairy-tale characters.

Embracing the wonderful, bizarre, and frightening aspects of human experience through the work of two Iberian artists endowed with a discerning insight into the human soul, the exhibition is a unique opportunity to experience the technical, compositional and narrative mastery of two artistic giants.

Holburne director, Chris Stephens, said: “I am thrilled to be bringing the work of Paula Rego to Bath and to be able to see it in relation to the extraordinary etchings of Goya, the artist Paula admired perhaps more than any other. Thanks to the generosity of Paula’s family, we are able to include the Goya prints she herself lived with which will give the exhibition an especially moving, personal touch.”