Francis Newton Souza (1924 – 2002)
Oil on Canvas
24 x 19 in.
Widely recognized as one of India’s leading post-independence modernists, F. N. Souza’s work went through many distinct stylistic stages throughout his life. Untitled (Still Life), on view here, is an unparalleled example from a very unique phase of Souza’s work in the early 1970s, characterized by an explosion of color and ambiguous forms rendered in a thick, boldly confident impasto not found in his work from the previous three decades. Critics have speculated that this radical transformation in Souza’s work, from his earlier, often grim, subject matter and darkened palette to the frenzied and celebratory use of color and paint and loosening of technique seen here, was likely born from a rare period of personal joy in Souza’s life following the birth of his son.
One of the founders of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group in 1947 along with M. F. Husain, S. H. Raza, and others, Souza was an iconoclast known for his powerful imagery, and unrestrained graphic style which created much controversy throughout his life and work. However, he was also one of the few Indian Modernist painters to achieve significant recognition in the West during his lifetime, exhibiting internationally at institutions such as the Guggenheim, New York and the Tate Gallery, London, amongst many others.
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