Signed and dated 'Souza 61' (upper left)
Further signed, titled, dated and inscribed 'F.N. Souza / 'Spanish Landscape' / 1961 / 20 2/3 x 24 1/8"' (on the reverse)
Sotheby's / Lot 37 / Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art / 6 October 2015 / London
Saffronart / Lot 48 / The Ties that Bind: South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art / Online auction / November 2016
Most of Souza’s repertoire in the 1950's and 1960's focussed on striking landscapes, works for which he earned a considerable reputation. He was awarded a government scholarship on his return to England in 1949 and travelled to Italy later, in 1960, for a study tour. In this period, he visited several European capitals and was exposed to various cityscapes in the continent. This experience lent him the framework within which he created much of his artistic compositions in the coming years.
Souza’s landscapes bring to life the tension between the natural world and civilisation. Picturesque buildings and bold trees sit easily in Souza’s imagery with the dance of a ferocious sky, providing a commentary of sorts on man’s movements with those of nature and the cosmos at large. 'Souza’s landscapes seem to be driven by a cataclysmic force, which wreaks havoc. Most of these cityscapes following, at first, a simple rectilinear structure, which later, in the 1960's, gives way to an apocalyptic vision. The tumbling houses in their frenzied movement are also symbolic of all things falling apart, of the very root of things being shaken, of a world of the holocaust and thalidomide babies.' (Y. Dalmia, The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives, New Delhi, 2001, p. 93).
Influences from stained-glass windows at Roman Catholic churches in Goa and Europe are evident in the thick, black outlines of his buildings. Souza draws on the spiritual influences that visited him in his childhood to render tightly ordered compositions – an effort, perhaps, to merge religion and modernity within a single frame. 'In moving to Europe, he has never lost touch with the art that first inspired him. Souza is not an artist who changes his style every now and then as fashions come along: he is a painter who has developed an imagery which is strongly his own. […] The result is a synthesis of traditions and styles, and at the same time the evolution of an original talent which has stolen its greatest powers from no one.' (E. Mullins, Souza, Anthony Blond Ltd., London, 1962, p. 44-45)