5 Famous Female Portuguese Artists

1. Paula Rego

    Portuguese Artist Paula Rego subcultours.jpg

    Paula Rego is known as a Portuguese visual artist. She was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1935. Her parents encouraged her to become an artist. Her father was an engineer and her mother was also already an established artist. So she moved to London to study at an art school. Though, it has been mostly her memories of growing up in Portugal that inspired many of her paintings, especially the stories told by her aunt and grandmum.

    During her life as a Portuguese artist, Paula’s style changed from abstract towards more representational art. Her favorite paint has always been pastels. In her paintings we can often recognize a colorful reflection of feminism.

    Although Rego was commissioned by her father to produce a series of large-scale murals to decorate the works' canteen at his electrical factory while she was still a student, Rego's artistic career actually took off when she began exhibiting next to long-established artists like David Hockney.

    To name one example, we can mention the Portuguese painter’s "Dog Women“ series: 
Women are shown in a way that resemble the behavior of dogs. To make a point against the "socially correct", stereotypical feminine behavior.

    In 2009 a modern looking museum dedicated to Rego's work, "Casa das Histórias Paula Rego", was opened in Cascais, Portugal.
    You can see it on the photo below. 

    Portuguese Artist Paula Rego subcultours Portugal

    When you got a bit inspired now and also feel like painting, try our "The Self-Taught Art" Painting Workshop with artist Charlie Visconage, an American self-taught artist, living between Washington DC and Portugal. Charlie can come to your private home, hotel or office. Wherever you want him to host the workshop.

    2. Maria Helena Vieira da Silva

    Born in Lisbon in 1908, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva was a Portuguese abstract painter. During her childhood, Maria had the chance to travel the world because of her father’s profession as a diplomat. She returned to Portugal for her studies.

    Afterwards, she continued her journey to Paris, as many other artists at the time did. In Paris, the Portuguese painter got further formal training and was influenced by styles such as Cubism, Futurism, and Constructivism. 

    What makes her paintings special and stand out, are the complex interiors and city views for which she uses lines that explore space and perspective. Maria has always enjoyed playing with the idea of space and creating a wrong perception of it. She painted for instance a neutral background with flecks in color that showed a sense of depth. Vieira da Silva is also known for the complex arrangements of small rectangles in her paintings.

    Next to painting, the Portuguese artist has worked in print, design, tapestry, ceramic decoration and stained glass.

    Pssst. We also have a very talented tapestry artist within our workshop portfolio! Susana is a multidisciplinary artist who focuses mostly on the renovation of tapestry in Arraiolos stitch. You can book Susana’a “Tapestry with Arraiolos stitch Workshop in Milharado, Portugal, here.

    Tapestry with Arraiolos stitch Workshop in Milharado, Portugal

    3. Helena Almeida

    Helena Almeida was a Portuguese artist known for her photography, performance art, body art, paintings and drawings. The Portuguese artist was born in Lisbon in 1934. Her father was a sculptor and had a strong influence on her creative development.

    Helena often used 3-dimensional elements in her art works. Her goal was to make her work escape the canvas and confuse the viewer. The Portuguese artist has always had a desire for self-representation. Her credo was “My work is my body. My body is my work. I am the canvas." To give an example, she took a black and white photograph of herself wearing a canvas with her arms spread out and her face looking down. It was her interpretation of Christ carrying the cross.

    Almeida brought together 3 disciplines: Photography, Painting and Drawing.

    Do you feel like drawing now? Check out our inspiring illustration workshops in Lisbon with artist Nicolae and Filipa

    Postcards to Myself Workshop - in Lisbon, Portugal

    4. Josefa de Óbidos

      Josefa de Óbidos was born in Spain in 1630 and spent her lifetime as a Portuguese painter. Her father has also worked as a Portuguese painter. He went to Seville to improve his painting technique and over there, he met Josefa de Óbidos’ mother.

      Josefa is mostly known for her still-life paintings. Some of her most famous still lives she painted in collaboration with her father, “The Series of Each Month“. Each of these paintings consists of a landscape background with a still life in the front, showing the animals, fruits, and vegetables consumed in that month. While these paintings appear to be ordinary still-life paintings on the surface, they also have a religious meaning.
 Josefa did a lot of commission work for churches as well, mainly religious altarpieces.

      The artist was seen as a strong, emancipated, independently-minded woman for the seventeenth century. She never married.

      The Portuguese painter created some of the most attractive and instantly recognizable paintings in the history of Portuguese art over almost four decades.

      5. Aurélia de Sousa

      Aurélia de Sousa was a painter, born in Valparaíso, Chile in 1866. Her family lived in Brazil and Chile before moving back to Porto, Portugal. 

      Her painting style can be described as personal and naturalist and her themes were mostly portraits, landscapes and impressions of daily life. She got famous for the androgynous and provocative self-portraits that she painted.

      Aurélia de Sousa lost her father at a young age and the artist was growing up in a family comprised mainly of women. The Portuguese painter never married or left her maternal home. These circumstances of being a woman at the beginning of the 20th century had a strong influence on her artistic work.

      When you feel inspired to get creative as well, check out all of our artist workshops in Portugal here.

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