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Lot Details

Signed and dated 'Souza 63' (lower centre left)

Saffronart / Lot 70 / December Auction / 2006

Born in 1924, Francis Newton Souza grew up in the Portuguese Catholic colony of Goa. It is needless to say that his unique upbringing loomed substantially over the artist and his early themes. For Souza, the church remained a constant source of inspiration and imagery, which he deliberately and extensively used in his still life paintings. Geeta Kapur recounts his still lifes as consisting ‘of things used in liturgical practice. They are mostly ornate vessels and sacred objects. These objects retain their ritual aspect both on account of the visual description and composition [...] They are moreover, clustered formally as if on the shelf of the sacristy [...] His objects belong neither to the intimate comforts of a home nor to the grandeur of the market-place, both environments being specifically bourgeois in their origins. Very curiously in the object-world he reclaims the sense of the sacred that he so consciously drains from the human being and from God.’ (Geeta Kapur, Contemporary Indian Artists, New Delhi, 1978, p. 29-30).

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.