Didier Faustino creates shrink-wrapped scenography for Paula Rego exhibition

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Didier Faustino creates shrink-wrapped scenography for Paula Rego exhibition


French-Portuguese architect Didier Faustino has shrink-wrapped a series of wooden blocks to display paintings by the late artist Paula Rego as part of an exhibition in Hanover, Germany.

The unusual scenography was created for the exhibition titled Paula Rego: There and Back Again at the Kestner Gesellschaft art association and has been shortlisted in the exhibition design category of the 2023 Dezeen Awards.

White shrink-wrapped block displaying a small painting in the upper left corner
Didier Faustino has designed the scenography for Paula Rego: There and Back Again

Didier Faustino and his practice Mésarchitecture created a series of display walls for the show, providing additional surface area inside the building for displaying Rego’s work while referencing her distorted artistic style.

“The aim of the scenography is to emphasise the contemporaneity of Paula Rego’s work, as well as to echo the violence of the world she describes,” said Faustino.

Shrink-wrapped blocks against a pink backdrop
The exhibition is spread over four rooms, each painted in a different colour

The Portuguese-British artist, who died aged 87 in 2022, was known for her stark depictions of injustice – particularly against women – and has been heralded as a feminist icon.

Unfolding across four rooms over two levels, the exhibit comprised 80 works including paintings, drawings, prints and costume designs.

Pale green room with tall shrink-wrapped blocks displaying paintings
The scenography consists of a variety of shrink-wrapped blocks

To display some of the larger or more important paintings, Faustino built a variety of freestanding wooden structures with shapes and protrusions that respond to the architecture of each space, as well as the sizes of the specific frames.

He then wrapped these structures in white thermo-retractable film and exposed the material to heat so it pulled taught over the formwork.

“Walls to hang her paintings have been designed with protruding parts, giving them a grotesque appearance resembling the grotesque figures of the artist,” Faustino said.

“Their wrapping with heat-shrink white film, with its stretched and wrinkled parts, gives a sense of both tension and sensuality.”

White exhibition space with arched clerestory windows
Arched clerestory windows are echoed across the tops of the display blocks

Faustino also pulled several colours from Rego’s paintings and applied these to the perimeter walls that surround the sculptural displays.

More artworks and exhibition texts were presented on these brightly-hued surfaces, which contrasted with the stark white plastic. The exhibition was Rego’s first institutional solo show in Germany and ran from 30 October 2022 to 29 January 2023.

Single painting of a woman displayed on a large shrink-wrapped block
The shrink-wrapping creates wrinkles and protrusions

Faustino’s work spans both art and architecture, ranging from bright spiky doorways and stages added to historic buildings, to a bar interior in Ghent with pink marble walls and olive green furnishings.

The photography is by David Boureau.

Paula Rego: There and Back Again took place at the Kestner Gesellschaft from 30 October 2022 to 29 January 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

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