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Lot Details

Signed and dated 'Souza 93' (upper left)
Further signed, titled, dated and inscribed 'F.N. Souza / Psychiatrist & wife / 1993 / oil on canvas' (on the reverse)

Christie's / Sale # 1492 / Lot 244 / Indian and Southeast Asian Art including Modern Art / New York / 31 March 2005
Private collection

Aziz Kurtha, Francis Newton Souza 1924-2002: Bridging Western and Indian Modern Art, Mapin Publishing, 2006, pg. 131 (illustrated)

F.N.Souza's works are an amalgamation of the cerebral aspects and influences from literature, culture, science, nature, current events, inspiration from other artists he looked up to in the field, and his personal life. He incorporated almost everything - from the human form to landscapes, still-life to futuristic distortions, and in every possible manner and medium yet managed to make his paintings recognizably his. This uncompromising commitment to his inner muse propelled him towards the discovery of new thought, style, and avenues for his art.

'Psychiatrist and Wife' is an unusual work for Souza in terms of both subject matter and the use of bold colors. Dated 1993, the period indicates Souza's later years with a looser style, natural flowing lines, and freer use of bright colors. Here, he depicted the face of the 'psychiatrist' resembling his mutant profiles yet "inside out." Using a fractured cubistic style, Souza revealed a complex and deconstructed persona reflecting on what the protagonist's line of work connotates. In stark contrast, the 'wife' is shown elegant and composed. She was depicted not as a sexual object, as Souza had previously done, but poised and dignified.

Despite the disparate style, the couple appears united due to the similar palette used - which merged the compositional elements; and the general use of a thick bold black outline, a favorite artistic device of Souza. Playing on the perspective element of the work, the artist placed the figures in the foreground, straddling the landscape while simultaneously merging into it.

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.