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Friday, June 10, 2022


by stella graham-landau

The artist Paula Rego, who died [on June 8] aged 87, once said that she liked “to work on the edge”, and her many series of paintings and drawings, about the subjugation of women, abortion and the marriage market, cut across social perceptions of the role of women, and disrupted the male view of women and their sexuality. —The Guardian, June 8, 2022. Above: Abortion protest. Triptych, 1997-98, which helped change public opinion in Portugal. Photograph: Paula Rego, courtesy Marlborough International Fine Art via The Guardian.

a moment ago she was here
now all that is left are 
her dirty pieces of broken pastels
and a body of work
that leaves viewers disturbed

i am distressed that she is gone
no one is left to explain what she meant
painting women who look like men
and a man posed naked and emaciated
like a rotten pear in a still life

what would she paint next
what repellant image to make her point

she is no longer
still life or any life
only a collection
of discomforting images
and her signature
a reminder

life is stark

stella graham-landau is a writer and artist living in richmond, va. she has recently been published in Bare: An Unzipped Anthology.