Signed and dated ‘Souza ‘61’ (upper centre left)
Formerly in the collection of Aziz Kurtha
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Aziz Kurtha, Francis Newton Souza: Bridging Western and Indian Modern Art, Mapin Publishing, Ahmedabad, 2006, p. 166 (illustrated)
Aziz Kurtha, Francis Newton Souza: Bridging Western and Indian Modern Art, Mapin Publishing, Ahmedabad, 2006, p. 166
Souza created numerous heads in the 1950’s and 60’s. In keeping with his artistic vision, he relentlessly experimented with the heads within the ambit of figurative art. "I have created a new kind of face [...] I have drawn the physiognomy way beyond Picasso, in completely new terms. And I am still a figurative painter [...] He stumped them and the whole of the western world into a shambles. When you examine the face, the morphology, I am the only artist who has taken it a step further." (Artist statement, Yashodhara Dalmia, The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives, New Delhi, 2001, p. 94).
'Souza did not care about the profusion of eyes and teeth in his Head paintings. This one is executed almost like an abstract drawing against a black, painted background with touches of blue in the garment and around the collar. Possibly a clergyman, the deliberate impression is of an impersonal and faceless man with pockmarks which he has shown before, for example, on images of Sr. Francis and self portraits. He has used the canvas medium base to construct the white face with minimal lines to produce an incongruous modern caricature of a head resting upon a body in an old-fashioned garb.' (Aziz Kurtha, Francis Newton Souza: Bridging Western and Indian Modern Art, Mapin Publishing, Ahmedabad, 2006, p. 166)
Francis Newton Souza
(1924 - 2002)
Born in 1924 in Saligao, Goa, Souza was expelled from the Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai, in 1942 for taking part in the ‘Quit India’ freedom movement. He went on to found the Progressive Artist’s Group in 1948, before leaving for London a year later. In 1955 Souza held a one-man show at Gallery One in London and also had his autobiographical essay ‘Nirvana of a Maggot’ published. He was awarded the John Moore Prize at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool in 1957 and received an Italian Government Scholarship in 1960. In 1959 a collection of his autobiographical essays, ‘Words and Lines’, was published, and in 1962 a monograph on his work by Edwin Mullins was published as well. In 1967 Souza migrated to New York where he received the Guggenheim International Award. Two retrospectives of his work were organized by Art Heritage, New Delhi, in 1986 and 1996. Souza also participated in a work-live programme in Los Angeles, hosted by Saffronart in 2001. Souza passed away in Mumbai 2002. Some important posthumous exhibition of his work include, ‘F.N. Souza’ at Saffronart and Grosvenor Gallery, New York, in 2008; ‘F.N. Souza: Religion & Erotica’ at Tate Britain, London, in 2005-06; ‘Self-Portrait: Renaissance to Contemporary’ at the National Portrait Gallery, London, in 2005; and ‘Francis Newton Souza’ at Saffronart and Grosvenor Gallery, New York and London, in 2005.