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   Home      Francis Newton Souza
Francis Newton Souza
Francis was an Indian painter and writer, active in Britain and the USA. After a difficult upbringing, he joined the Sir Jamshetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art, Bombay, in 1940 but was expelled in 1943. For a short period afterwards he was a member of the Communist Party of India and painted in a Social Realist idiom. In 1946-7 he initiated the Progressive Artists' Group in Bombay, which promoted modernism in Indian art. By this time he had abandoned Social Realism and was influenced by European Expressionism. His work became known and in 1947 he won the award of the Bombay Art Society. In 1948 his work was represented in an exhibition of Indian art at Burlington House, London. The following year, after his paintings were removed from the Bombay Art Society and his flat was raided by the police to seize 'obscene' works, he decided to move to London, where he supported himself by painting and writing.
Through Krishna Menon, the Indian High Commissioner to Britain, he received a commission to work on a series of murals in the Indian Students' Bureau in London (since destr.); Menon also arranged an exhibition of his work at India House. In 1954 he had an exhibition in Paris and in 1955 at Gallery One in London.
These exhibitions brought his work to the attention of the public and, with recognition, further exhibitions and sales followed. In 1957 he won the John Moore's Prize and in 1960 visited Italy on an Italian Government scholarship. From Italy he travelled to India for his first visit since 1949, but soon returned to London.
His paintings, executed in a forceful, expressionist manner, included Christian themes (inspired by his Roman Catholic upbringing), caricatures of social types, women, erotic scenes, still-lifes, landscapes and such paintings of cities as Las Ramblas, Barcelona (oil on canvas, 0.85*1.29 m, 1961; New Delhi, N.G. Mod. A.). He was influenced by the works of Georges Rouault, Cha?m Soutine and Pablo Picasso, and also by Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera and Orozco. An articulate writer, he disseminated his sometimes controversial views on art in catalogues, articles and essays. His works are in numerous private and public collections including the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, the Museum and Picture Gallery, Vadodara, and the Tate Gallery, London.