Her studio resembles a theatre backstage
It is littered with dolls, puppets and props, as well as racks of costumes which Rego uses to orchestrate the scenes that become the basis of her compositions.
The room is windowless and she prefers it that way, allowing her to immerse herself fully in her psychic world. During the pandemic, she has been fixated with drawing the Virgin Mary – the central figure in one of Rego’s most high-profile commissions, for the chapel of the presidential palace in Lisbon.
Invited by President Jorge Sampaio in 2002, Rego made Nossa Senhora, a cycle of scenes in pastel from the Virgin’s life. In one, The Nativity (2002), the Madonna lies prostrate in the lap of the Archangel, clutching her pregnant stomach, a strikingly vulnerable figure.
Today, this religious series is still special to Rego, and she keeps one work from the cycle on her bedroom wall. “Of all my pictures,” she says, “these were the most fun to make.”