Monday 13 February 2012

A Modern Indian Master- F.N Souza

Image via Outlook India

"I seek Beauty more than knowledge. In fact, knowledge can be ugly."
Francis Newton Souza

There are some artists whose work resonates with you. For me, F.N Souza is one of those artists. I don't claim to be an expert in art, but here's why I love his work so much.

Although there is nothing pretty about his paintings- his works are often dark, terse and thought provoking, for me, they are beautiful in their raw ugliness; there is a certain tension and energy emanating from the canvases; they seem to speak to you, almost reach out and touch you.

Souza was born in 1924 in Goa. A rebel in the true sense, he attended St. Xavier's College in Bombay, but was expelled for drawing graffiti in the bathroom; although he claimed he was only correcting the original graffiti because it was so bad. He then studied in Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai but was expelled for participating in the Quit India Movement. In 1947 he founded the Progressive Artist's Movement along with S.H. Raza, M.F Husain and K.H. Ara, among others.

"Renaissance painters painted men and women making them look like angels. I paint for angels, to show them what men and women really look like."
Francis Newton Souza

Religious imagery was a powerful source of inspiration for him especially during the initial phase of his life as an artist. In fact the underlying theme in many of Souza's works revolves around his Roman Catholic background and his antagonism towards it.

Souza painted in an unrestrained and irreverent style and his works have reflected the influence of various schools of art- Goan folk art, the religious fervor of the Renaissance style as well as Modern abstractionist and Surrealist styles, however he was never really bound by any particular style.


F.N Souza was the first of India's modern painters to achieve high recognition in the West. He was also a prolific writer, cementing his literary reputation with his book, Words and Lines, in the year 1959. His paintings are displayed in several international museums such as the Tate  Gallery, London and the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, to name a few.  In fact, Souza is the only Indian artist to have a room dedicated to his paintings at Tate Britain. His painting, “Birth” sold for a record $2.5 million at a Christie’s auction in London on June 11, 2008.


  1. Hi Shalini. Loved reading this article on Souza. My daughter plans to take art in senior school, and pursue the same as a career later. I've finlly found a little time to follow links back from my blog...sorry I took so long. Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Hi Deeba. So glad you dropped by and I'm really happy you enjoyed the article. I love you blog. Its really inspirational and I'm slowly going to try out your recipes... starting with the chocolate beetroot cake, which sounds fabulous.


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