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 Artists’ 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 he 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 program in Los Angeles, hosted by Saffronart in 2001. Souza passed away in Mumbai in 2002.
Souza's career developed steadily, and he participated in several shows, receiving positive reviews from John Berger. His style was, as Berger pointed out deliberately eclectic: essentially Expressionist in character, but also drawing on the post-war Art Brut movement and elements of British Neo-romanticism.
Some important posthumous exhibitions 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.