Tereza Costa Rego Biography

Tereza Costa Rego




Painter and printmaker Tereza Costa Rêgo was born in Recife, Brazil, on April 28, 1929, into an aristocratic Catholic family of Pernambuco. She enrolled at the Escola Belas Artes, Recife at age 15. In 1949, at age 20, her painting "Menina e ex-votos" was shown at the Museo do Estado Pernambuco, and in 1962, she was given her first major exhibition at the Editora Nacional, by which time she had already been awarded prizes from the State Museum and the Society of Modern Art. She had begun to establish herself as one of the most recognizable Modernist figurative painters of Brazil.

Politically active and considering herself a Communist, she had to go into hiding from 1962 to 1969 after her partner, Communist Party leader Diógenes Arruda, was arrested. In 1970, while still lying low, she was able to attend the University of Universidade de São Paulo to study art and history. In 1972, after Arruda was released, they attempted to move to Chile, but the military coup there forced them to leave. They moved to Paris, France, where Rêgo continued to work and exhibit. At this time she earned her doctorate in History at the Sorbonne. After six years in France, the couple returned to Brazil. Arruda died of a heart attack not long after their arrival.

Rêgo settled in Olinda around 1980, and established herself as a prominant lithographer and, in addition to her career as a painter, took a position as the director of the Olinda Regional Museum and the Museum of the State of Pernambuco. In the meantime, she continued to exhibit internationally, including in Lisbon, Paris, Cuba, and elewhere. Rêgo's impact on the art scene in the relatively conservative Pernambuco and in Brazil generally was significant, considering her position as a female artist and a leftist activist. IN 2011 she was awarded the Ordem do Mérito Cultural for her contributions to Brazilian culture.

Tereza Costa Rêga died in Recife, Brazil, on July 26, 2020. On the anniversary of her death, works by Rêgo were projected onto building facades across Brazil in her memory.