F N Souza

Artist’s Statement

“But for art, man would die of boredom!”
Souza was born in the Portuguese colony of Goa in 1924 into a strict Roman Catholic family. His upbringing was marked by what he saw as the conflict between the erotic indian art surrounding him, and the repressive teachings of the Catholic Church. This duality of what he called ‘sin and sensuality’ was to significantly shape his art. Souza’s canvases alternate from spiky, deformed faceless bodies and violent scenes of Christ’s crucifixion, to sensual and statuesque nudes and tender portrayals of mother and child. Souza’s work is often evaluated within the context of his Indian contemporaries, namely the Progressives, of which he was a founding member.

The social context within which Souza lived and painted and his strength of character are being brought into view. From his very beginnings, with the death of his father and sister during his childhood, Souza struggled against adversity. He fought for and achieved recognition against racism, conservatism and poverty to achieve one-man shows and international awards. Souza’s energy never abated for new ideas and new techniques, from his use of light boxes to project images onto canvases, to his early experimentation with chemical solvents, acrylics and monochrome painting.

Like other great artists of the Twentieth Century, Souza was neither daunted by tradition nor disparaging of contemporary visual culture. Instead he adopted various notions and visual references from such sources as the old masters, his contemporaries, and commercial imagery appropriating them to create his own distinct works. In no other case is it more appropriate for a new adjective; Souzaesque. Souza was not only a prolific painter but also a writer, poet and even philosopher. His legacy is only just coming to light and there is much more to research. We can all look forward to discovering more about him.


1960 – Study Tour of Italy on an Italian Government Scholarship
1940-45 – Diploma in Painting, Sir J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai



2001 – ‘Francis Newton Souza Rare Works: 1965-2001′, Galerie 88, Kolkata
1999 – Copeland Fine Art Gallery, Columbus, Ohio, USA
1998 – Bose Pacia Modern, New York
1997 – Julian Hartnolls Gallery, London
1996 – Art Heritage, New Delhi
1996 – ‘Souza from the Alkazi Collection’, Academy of Fine Arts and Literature, New Delhi
1993 – ‘Souza, 1940s-1990s Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi
1986 – Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi
1983 – ‘Souza in the Forties’ Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi
1985 – Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai
1976 – Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi
1975, 76 – Arts 38, London
1968 – London Arts Gallery Detroit, USA
1966 – Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi
1966 – Grosvenor Gallery, London
1963 – Taj Gallery, Mumbai
1962 – Kumar Gallery, New Delhi
1961 – Gallery One, London
1961, 62 – North Audley Street, London
1960 – Gallery One, London
1959 – Gallery One, London
1957 – Gallery One, London
1955 – Gallery One, London
1954 – Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
1954 – Gallery Creuze, London
1951 – Indian Embassy, London


2001 – ‘Souza and Baiju’, Saffronart and Apparao Galleries, Mumbai
1996 – National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai
1996, 93 – LTG Gallery, New Delhi
1987 – Coups de Coeur, Halles de L’Ile, Geneva
1986 – Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi
1982 – ‘Modern Indian Paintings’, Hirschorn Museum & Sculpture Garden Washington, D.C
1982 – India: Myth and Reality, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford
1982 – Contemporary Indian Art, Royal Academy, London
1977 – ‘Commonwealth Artists of Fame’, London
1967 – Guggenheim Foundation, USA
1965 – Art Now in India, London
1964 – Grosvenor Gallery
1962 – Commonwealth Institute, London
1957 – John Moore’s Exhibition, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
1956, 57, 59, 60 – Gallery One, London
1954 – Venice Biennale, Italy
1954 – Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
1949 – Bombay Art Society Salon, Mumbai
1948 – Burlington House Gallery, London
1947 – Progressive Artists Group, Mumbai

Award & Recognition

1998 – Kalidas Sanman, Government of Madhya Pradesh
1967 – Guggenheim International Award, New York
1960 – Italian Government Scholarship (through the British Council)
1957 – John Moores Prize, Liverpool