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F.N.Souza's paintings, artist F.N.Souza, well known artist, indian painter - Art Excellence

Indian art has always entwined in itself history, religion and philosophy. India can boast of many a great artists of the century. Francis Newton Souza was one such artist. He was the first experimental artist from India to achieve wide spread fame in the west. He was born on April 12, 1928 at Goa and was Christian by relegion. He studied Art at the J.J. School of Arts in Mumbai but was expelled from the school for his participation in the Quit India Movement way back in 1942. Souza’a career developed steadily and he started participating in a lot of exhibitions and shows. Souza was the founder of the Bombay Progressive Artist’s Group. He encouraged all painters to participate in the avant-garde movement. Souza moved to England in the 1950’s. Souza was one of the early modernist in the true sense of the term.

F N Souza’s painting always screamed to make a world his own.  They appeared ephemeral. with his incensed brushstrokes, criss-cross lines and glossy borders. His paintings seemed grave and futile, pressing and mocking at you. Souza reasserted the intensity of impressions with utmost desperation. Souza’s painting seemed to attack the canvas. It was as if he waged a war against it. Souza combined the art of ex-pressionism of Rouault and Soutine, fortitude of Cubism and ancient Indian classical sculptures to paint beautiful landscapes, crucifixes, popes and priests etc. Lines were what Souza’s forte was. Souza always painted and still left something in his paintings which made them mysterious and captivating.

What threw Souza into fame was his autobiographical essay ‘Nirvana of a Maggot’ which appeared in 1955 in a magazine edited by Stephen Spender. ‘Words and Lines’ was his other great book which was published in London in 1959. In 1967, Souza settled in New York. Souza has also been a part of the Commonwealth Artists of Fame exhibition which was held in London in 1977. He has also participated in several other exhibitions which include one-man shows in Paris in 1954 and 1960 and in Detroit in 1968. In 1987, his retrospectives were held in New Delhi and Mumbai. He also exhibited his work at the Indus Gallery in Karachi in 1988. In 1996, his paintings were displayed at New Delhi again. In 2005, as part of their British Art Collection, the Tate Britain devoted an area to Souza’s works so that Britain art lovers could appreciate his work time and now. Souza work also had hints of ex-pressionism and British neo-romanticism. F. N. Souza also received positive appreciation from John Peter Berger, an art critique. Berger also said that Souza’s style was deliberately eclectic.

In his last days Souza painted many pictures under the title “Goa portfolio” where he also wrote a lot of inspiring prose. Souza was always viewed as a brilliant painter, a good writer, a visionary and a pathfinder. Although Souza lived in the west; first England then New York, he remained a through Indian at heart.



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