Francis Newton Souza

Francis Newton Souza the founder of the Progressive Artist's Group in 1947 is 'best known for his inventive human forms particularly the heads. Born in Goa in 1924 he was a student at the J.J. School of Art from where he was expelled in 1942 for participating in the Quit India Movement. He left for London in 1949 where after an initial period of struggle his work began to have an impact. The Institute of Contemporary Arts included his work in a group exhibition in 1954 to be followed by a solo show at Gallery one in 1955. The publication of his autobiographical piece 'Nirvana of a Maggot' in Encounter magazine that was then edited by the poet Stephen Spender also won him recognition. 

Apart from his paintings he proved to be very articulate and an ingenious writer as his book "Words and Lines" published in London in 1959 revealed. He was on his way to being recognized as an outstanding painter when he left for the United States and settled in New York in 1967. Souza participated in the Common wealth Artists of Fame exhibition in London in 1977 and has had several exhibitions including one man shows in Paris in 1954 and 1960 and in Detroit in 1968. His retrospectives were held in New Delhi and Mumbai in 1987 and a show at the Indus Gallery in Karachi in 1988. A large retrospective was once again held in New Delhi in 1996.

He received the Guggenheim International Award, and his works are in the permanent collection of the Tate Modern Art Gallery in London, the National Gallery in New Delhi, and the Baroda Museum, Baroda.

Francis Newton Souza's unrestrained and graphic style creates thought provoking and powerful images. His repertoire of subjects covers still life, landscape, nudes and icons of Christianity, rendered boldly in a frenzied distortion of form. Souza's paintings express defiance and impatience with convention and with the banality of everyday life.

His works have reflected the influence of various schools of art: the folk art of his native Goa, the full-blooded paintings of the Renaissance, the religious fervor of the Catholic Church, the landscapes of the 18th and 19th century Europe and the path-breaking paintings of the moderns. A recurrent theme in his works is the conflict in a man - woman relationship, with an emphasis on sexual tension and friction. In his drawings, he uses line with economy, while still managing to capture fine detail in his forms; or he uses a profusion of crosshatched strokes that make up the overall structure of his subject.

As a strong mode mist Souza's early work made an impact both in India and abroad. His strong, bold lines delineated the head in a distinctive way where it was virtually re-invented the circles, hatchings and crosses. In later years .his forms retained their plasticity but became less incentive. Indian art critics, who would not touch his paintings with a barge pole a couple of years ago, and who even passed him for a crank or charlatan, now hastily revised their opinions,showering on him paeans of praise.

Souza's depiction of the human form is not pleasing to the eye. Dark conceits and stark imagery are his stock-in-trade. He appears to distort the face deliberately in order to achieve grandeur through ugliness.

Drawing a contrast between Renaissance painters and his own method, he says "Renaissance painters painted men and women making them look like angels. I paint for angels, to show them what men and women really look like."

His nudes convey the impression of disillusion and despair, the sad satiety that seems usually to accompany violent delights and excitements. 
Francis Newton Souza died in 2002 
“A recurrent theme in my work is the conflict in a man - woman relationship, with an emphasis on sexual tension and friction." 

Artwork for Sale

After Paul Klee's Great Dome,1927
by Francis Newton Souza

Size:

8 X 13 inches

Head of Man, 1957
by Francis Newton Souza

Size:

10 X 8 inches

still life with fish 1962
by Francis Newton Souza

Size:

31 X 43 inches

Still life with fruit - 1961
by Francis Newton Souza

Size:

34 X 35 inches

The Roman, 1966
by Francis Newton Souza

Size:

14 X 10 inches

Two women, 1954
by Francis Newton Souza

Size:

8 X 10 inches

Untitled
by Francis Newton Souza

Size:

13 X 20 inches

Untitled (Christ) 1963
by Francis Newton Souza

Size:

22 X 15 inches

Untitled (Two Heads), 1956
by Francis Newton Souza

Size:

15 X 22 inches

Untitled 1962
by Francis Newton Souza

Size:

33 X 44 inches