242 Scarecrow 2006 (1)


“Paula Rego and her Contemporaries” in London: an open call to Portuguese artists

24 Mar · 10h00

Detail from the piece 'Scarecrow' by Paula Rego © Scarecrow, 2006, Paula Rego

To celebrate the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Portuguese Embassy in London has organised an open call for Portuguese artists living in the United Kingdom to take part in the exhibition “Paula Rego and Her Contemporaries”. The exhibition will be held in the 12 Star Gallery at Europe House in the British capital.


With Instituto Camões support, the aim of the initiative is to select two up-and-coming Portuguese artists to produce artworks in response to the challenges that Europe is facing in the 21st century:

  • the digital transition and its impact on the visual arts and the world
  • the development of a social Europe, with special emphasis on the EU’s role in global relations


The artworks chosen will be exhibited alongside eleven engravings by the artist Paula Rego. The intention of the curator Mara Alves is that this exhibition should lead the spectator to view the past from an evolving perspective, at the same time as it establishes a dialogue with the artists selected.

“La Mano Muerta”

As part of the exhibition, an unpublished engraving by Paula Rego, on the topic “Freedom of Expression”, will be put on show for the first time. Entitled “La Mano Muerta”, the plate was made in 1962 in the artist’s London studio and has never been exhibited. It was her son who found it in his grandparents’ house in Estoril at the end of 2020 and then took it to the United Kingdom to be restored.

La Mano Muerta C1962 64

La Mano Muerta 1962/64
Image: 19.5 x 29.5 cm
Paper: 38 x 47 cm
Published by the artist in 2020 from a plate drawn in 1962/64 in an edition of 50.
Courtesy Paula Rego and Cristea Roberts Gallery, London ©️ Paula Rego

In an interview with the newspaper “Expresso”, Nick Willing recounts that the “disappearance” of the painting was deliberate: as it criticised censorship, Paula Rego feared that it would be confiscated by the dictatorship governing Portugal at the time. After being hidden, it was ultimately forgotten about.

“ The project aims to organise an exhibition promoting Portuguese artists in the United Kingdom on a global level, in response to the challenges that Europe is facing in the 21st century. In addition, it aims to promote the artists’ visual production, offering a glimpse of the ‘Portuguese soul’ in its contemporary expression and its reaction to social questions on a world scale. ”

Mara Alves, curator of the exhibition

“When its social and artistic phenomena are considered, Portugal emerges as a nation with a renewed culture: authentic, powerful and irreversibly globalised, though with its creative roots intact and understood in a unique form by each of the artists involved in this exhibition. Endowed with impressive technical and creative capacities, and inspired by their thematic adversities, the artists remain demanding in their linguistic production, willing to transmit their imaginary universes, and sensitive to the expressive dimension of their contemporaries,” the curator stated.


“Paula Rego and Her Contemporaries” will be on show at the 12 Star Gallery, Europe House, London, from 1 June to 16 July 2021.

Applications may be submitted until 15 April. The conditions are available here.