Feelings almost too dark to speak of. I think women accept their feelings more than men. They’re more open about them, they talk more about them with each other. A man will say: ‘Everything’s fine’ when it isn’t.” This may explain why the adverse criticism of Rego’s pictures has come exclusively from men.

Ideally the two drawings crowded with figures should be hung to make a doorway, a prelude to the rest. They can be interpreted equally as a chorus of ostrich women or one on her own displaying a range of postures and emotions. The left-side of the diptych describes spontaneous movement, with each figure using her dress as a prop, like actors improvising. One hides her head in shame, another holds her dress out like a net, several cradle the folds into bouquets or babies, perhaps even a dead baby in one guilty case. In the corner a vulgar duo do not seem to act at all. One leans on her thighs while to her rear the other rudely use her dress as a handkerchief, to hold or blow her nose.

In the second drawing the mood is more subdued with even a hint of nemesis or death, the rustling flock becalmed in various attitudes of exhausted anticipation. Is our time up? Asks one, through the wistful inclination of her head. Of course it is! Says a prostrate form. The manly figure on the right stands defiantly, a toreador about to face the bull; in contrast to the gesticulating lady, determined to go down in style, or the figure closet to the light source waiting in the wings, shades of a Degas dancer.

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