Incipient energies released in a generative environment often have far reaching effects. We have only to witness the works of a painter like Paul Gaugin whose journey to the South Sea Islands culminated in the sensuous bodies undreamt of by modernism. Amrita Sher-Gil, part Hungarian and part Indian, consciously chose to identify herself with India and the transplantation bought about an art which set the contours for modernism in the country. For Francis Newton Souza (1924 - 2002) the converse was true and it was only when he left Indian shores to seek wider pastures in London in 1949 that we see his agile draughtsmanship and piercing vision reach its apogee.

The smog-laden forties in London, with their post-war angst and putrefying smells of decay had given rise to a whole generation of painters and writers who expressed their anguish about the human condition. Artists like Francis Bacon highlighted the brutality and savagery in both man and society, attempting an equation with its darker side. In many ways the predecessor of British pop, Bacon’s work was lauded by a whole generation of painters ranging from Richard Hamilton and Peter Blake to R B Kitaj and David Hockney who rejected their consumerist culture and revolted against the art education system which they considered both provincial and parochial. If British modernism did not quite make a mark at the time with only a few distinctive artists like Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland, during the fifties and sixties, pop came into its own. Even more than American pop, it had taken note of reality ‘out there’ and created a disjunction between exclusivity and art. In works like $he made in 1958 for example, Hamilton brilliantly coalesced the advertising gimmick of the seductive woman to sell more home appliances with an almost abstract image, extending the sexual motif as a brazen caveat of modernity. In this climate Souza was to find a new charge to his dynamic rebuttal of hypocrisy in religion and sex, and he aimed it at European society and indeed at humanity at large.

To be an Indian in post-colonial London was to interface with a series of dualities: between indigenization and internationalism, between the artist and his own country, and finally with the diverse boundaries of identity. In many ways Souza’s position was emblematic - for not only was he one of the earliest of the post-independence artists to migrate in the opposite direction but he was strongly aware of the debt modernism owed to countries like India. As he said: “If modern (Indian) art is hybrid, what is the School of Paris? Matisse is ‘Persian’, Van Gogh is ‘Japanese’, Picasso is ‘African’, Gaugin is ‘Polynesian’. Indian artists who borrow from the School of Paris are home from home”[1]. But to bring modernism home was not easy when there was no roof over his head, and Souza’s first year was blessed with very little luck when he went in search of galleries which would agree to show his paintings. In the only biography written on him to date, Edwin Mullins documents how the period between 1949 - 1955 was a hard one for Souza, with him getting little response from London galleries except to be told that his work was not good enough. He even carried an enormous picture once with the help of a friend from North Kensington where he lived (it was too large for the Underground) to a gallery in Bond Street which had shown a slight interest, only to have it rejected and then he had to carry it all the way back to his home.


In those early days it was the fraternity which befriended Souza and allowed him to continue staying in London. The theatre director Ebrahim Alkazi recalls those days of hardship and camaraderie. “Our years in London - you should ask Nissim (Ezekiel) about it. We lived together for three years, sharing the same room and sometime even the same bed. The early exploits of Souza were hilarious. We were to find a place for him to stay. There was this advertisement in the New Statesman which said that there was a literary tea and being quite impecunious in those days, we went wherever there was tea. When we reached there was a lovely spread but there was no one else except us. It turned out that the hostess rented her place to students from the continent. These places didn’t have toilets but there was just a large drum placed on the landing and you know if you’ve had a beer what a stink it must have emitted. One of the things that Souza had to do to pay for his stay was to empty out those drums… Eventually Souza settled down and felt he could paint there. The landlady (an Eastern European married to a Punjabi) took to him because he could perform many of the menial tasks. And there came a time when Nissim and I and Krishna Paigankar would visit him and have lunches! She fed him rabbit and things. You must remember that we were there at a pretty bleak time. It was immediately after the war and everything was rationed, so as to have an occasional free meal was something we looked forward to. The landlady took to sculpting and made a head of Souza and since he smoked in those days, she stuck an actual cigarette in his mouth. She brought it to me because she wanted it cast in bronze”[2]. The then Indian High Commissioner Krishna Menon also recognised his talent and asked him to make a series of murals for the Students’ Bureau, while arranging an exhibition of his works at India House. Unfortunately the students’ building was later demolished, destroying all records of his early work.

More than anyone else it was his wife Maria who had earned a reputation as a couturier, who supported Souza, patiently tolerating his drunken forays and his disordered existence at home. Maria Figuerado had met him during his first exhibition in Bombay and had bought a painting for all of forty-eight rupees. The two came together although they came from disparate backgrounds. Souza’s father was a school teacher in a small village in Portuguese Goa, and Maria who was also Goan, came from an aristocratic of barristers. But none of that mattered to her and in no time the two were married. “Come and help me for five years”, he told her, “and I’ll give you an ugly son and a proud father.” Indeed the marriage lasted for years and they had a daughter before Souza left her for Lisolette Kristian from whom he had three children. By this time, apart from her fashion business, Maria had launched into art promotion and she provided a platform to scores of painters including Souza from 1975 to 1985 at her Arts 38 gallery at West End - a five-storeyed house which housed her couture studio at the top. The gallery’s first show by Souza was a sell-out and other artists like Abraham Artizi, Milutin Adzic, Mary Steward showed there later too. Although Arts 38 exhibited a wide spectrum of artists, it was primarily artists from India who showed and many of them like Dhiren Choudhury, Shanti Panchal, Jatin Dasand Fatima Ahmedshowed there. By the eighties Maria took over the running of the Horizon gallery supported by the Indian Arts Council: it became yet another platform for Indian artist like Praful Dave, Avinash Chandra and Balraj Khanna. She fought, lobbied and cajoled for scores of painters before she was ailing with cancer, the spirit of Ave Maria, the first painting she had bought from Souza, still prevailed. Her home was a permanent museum of Souza’s paintings which she continued to deal with and place at prominent places like the British Museum. She lived alone - a slim, elegant woman who died in 1993 after battling with her illness bravely.

Back in the fifties, there were no galleries which exhibited Indian artists, so it was a triumph for Souza when he was finally noticed. As Mullins points out, “Souza found a very different country from the one he had expected. People did not care much about painting. There were very few big names - Epstein, Moore, Sutherland, Colquhoun, Spencer, John, and one or two others, but there were no facilities for unknown painters and no galleries that were interested in their work. He remembers, that the few galleries which exhibited modern art were run mostly by foreigners. This shocked him particularly: it was as though England, the arch colonist, had become colonized herself. On top of this he found the average Englishman even less concerned with art than the people of Bombay. There was not even Minister of Culture! What was more, food was still rationed!”[3] Souza did spend considerable time at the Central School of London studying drawing, and when he was not doing that he painted in his crowded one-room home where he lived with his wife and baby daughter. Mullins mentions an amusing incident: “There was not much space for non-essentials, and he recalls how a next-door neighbour once complained that he had been throwing drawings in the communal dustbin. Apparently her children had been rummaging, and had found them. They were drawings which, she said, ‘were not quite nice’, and she accused him of being a corrupting influence on the young. Souza was rather flattered. It was the first time anyone in England had taken any notice of his work.”[4]


In 1954 he sent his autobiographical essay, ‘Nirvana of a Maggot’ to Stephen Spender, who edited the recently founded encounter. The latter accepted and published it the following year. Impressed by Souza’s considerable literary flair, he visited him, bought a painting and introduced him to Peter Watson, who selected his works for an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). In the early fifties the ICA was a dynamic place where artists, architects and writers congregated to hold discussions and propagate not only pop but new British art. In fact, in the fifties and the sixties, artists like Eduardo Paolozzi, Richard Hamilton, Allen Jones and Patrick Caulfield were responsible for innovations in art that decried established conventions and spoke of the new technological and consumerist culture. All the more ironic then that what Watson felt that Souza’s work was not in any recognisable way ‘Indian’ - in whichever way he felt that it should have been Indian. He exhibited it nonetheless alongside works by the older group of artists like Bacon, Sutherland, Henry Moore, Ivon Hutchins and others and found that all three of Souza’s paintings sold. In February 1955 Souza was invited by Victor Musgrave to hold a solo exhibition at Gallery One, then a tiny gallery on Litchfield Street. Coinciding with the publication of his essay ‘Nirvana of a Maggot’, the exhibition was a roaring success and noticed by several critics. John Berger wrote in the ‘New Statesman’ “How much Souza’s pictures derive from Western art and how much from the hieratic temple traditions of his country, I cannot say. Analysis breaks down and intuition takes over. It is obvious that he is a superb designer and an excellent draughtsman. But I find it quite impossible to assess his work comparatively because he straddles several traditions but serves none. [5]

By 1957 for his next solo show at the gallery’s new premises on D’Arblay Street, Souza seemed to have reached a heightened awareness about the achievements and drawbacks of the society he was amidst. At one level works like “Moonstruck Scientist’ revealed a man whose eyes swam in the clouds as his teeth masticated new interventions which would have little concern for humanity. At another level, there was ‘Emperor’, whose thorny face and glazed mouth contained deeply despairing eyes and had shades of uneasiness about wearing the crown. It was clear that Souza was not captivated by his social milieu despite the obvious benefits he derived from living in London. In the New Statesman, David Sylvester wrote: “Modern Indian painters, for example, mostly adopt the first-half-of-the-twentieth-century Pan-European decorative style which was partly inspired by the oriental kind of flat-patterning exemplified by traditional Indian painting… The importance of Francis Newton Souza, the young Goan painter who has settled in London and currently has an exhibition at Gallery One, is that he has resolved this dilemma of style as no other modern Indian painter - at least among those known here - has done. He has crossed Indian bazaar-painting with the Picasso style especially associated with the years 1936-1946 to produce a manner that is at once individual and consistent, and which might be said to suggest a caricature of a Byzantine icon (some of the paintings are, in fact, of Christian subject - Souza was a Catholic - and all the portraits look as if their subjects were unfrocked saints.”[6]

By 1961, in the large premises of the gallery at North Audley street, his increasingly expanding paintings could be shown to their full effect and his work was beginning to make an impact. A book on Souza written by Edwin Mullins was published in 1962 by a London publishing house and recorded his considerable achievements. Mullins pointed out: ”They (Souza’s images) are often distorted to the point of destruction -houses no more than lopsided cubes, grotesque faces with eyes anywhere and in any number (‘I have never counted the number of teeth I have drawn in grinning mouth, so what of a few extra eyes...’). But they never threaten to dissolve into formalized abstract shapes. The violence and speed with which they are executed keep these images, however distorted, in touch with the painter’s vision of what they really are.” George Butcher, writing in The Studio for November 1961, called him ‘a figurative action painter: and there could be no better description.’

His productivity knew no bounds, as a letter to Robert Melville reveals Souza was looking for a different gallery which would be even more active in promoting him. As he wrote:

Dear Robert Melville,

Ten years ago Stephen Spender had put me in touch with you, when I was avery poor anddesperate painter in London and you wrote a wonderful piece on me with two reproductions in the Architecture Review in 1958. I have been in Gallery One and I’m quite successful now in London. But I’m afraid, that while I’m growing to gigantic proportions in the aesthetic field, Gallery One is shrinking in its reputation.

Now Edwin Mullins, who’s also a good friend of mine, and who has written a book on me, has advised me to write to you frankly. My problem is simply that of a great painter trying to find a big enough art dealer to manage him, because I am very prolific and also very ambitious.

So if you could only help me in finding a suitable gallery for my work which has to be a moving belt as it were to be kept dynamic - which movements ends in a cul-de-sac in Gallery One. And I’m quite certain that it would give you great pleasure to watch fantastic development in the field of world of art in no time.

Perhaps you could get all the information you want on me from Edwin Mullins, and on other things I could have had a chat with you.

With kind regards,

Yours faithfully,

F.N. Souza [8]

We don’t know whether Melville found him another gallery but it was clear that the sky was the limit for the Souza of this period. Already by 1956 his work had been noticed at a Paris gallery by a rich American collector, Harold Kovner, who had offered to send him enough money every month in return for a few paintings each time. The arrangement was to last for four years, setting him free from the constrains of earning a living. While other Indian artists in Paris attempted to meet the painters they had admired from a distance - Paritosh Sen met Picasso, Akbar Padamsee talked to Giacometti - Souza was content to fiddle away his time in cafes. Yet along with the Sinhalese painter George Keyt, it was Souza who was the most acutely aware of Picasso’s work and who claimed to have outdone him. “I have created a new kind of face. In ‘The Last Supper’, there are two or three faces and they are drawn in a completely new iconography, beyond Picasso. As you know, Picasso redrew the human face and they were magnificent. But I have drawn the physiognomy way beyond Picasso, in completely new terms. And I am still a figurative painter. These fellows gave up after Picasso and became abstract or they started painting garbage cans, thereby avoiding the whole problem of draughtsmanship. He stumped them and the whole of the Western world into shambles. When you examine the face, the morphology, I am the only artist who has taken it a step further.” [9] Even if this was an exaggeration if could be said that Souza’s head were a powerful constituent of his painterly arsenal. It was the human countenance that Souza claimed to have changed beyond recognition and it could be said that his slashing, stabbing lines deftly uncovered the seamy side of humanity. These were extraordinarily mobile visages where steely eyes replaced the forehead; the mouth with fanged, gnashing teeth, and flickering arrows moved up and down the ridged terrain of the face. These faces petrified by their own evil could only be of people with death in their soul. In 1955 he had created a suite of ink drawings, ‘Six gentlemen of our Times’, which uncovered the decadent, manipulative characteristics of the well heeled and the powerful. It was a damning denouement of an affluent society that had a cankerous serpent at its core. For Souza’s piercing vision had seen the embittered, hardened man who had emerged from this society and had represented him bared of all disguises. These were works without redemption. There are many fine examples of his heads as well as his figurative and landscape drawings form his period in London in the present show.


Though unusual for an artist Souza was a versatile writer and his prose matched his art in its power to out denounce. In the book ‘Works and Lines”, which was a compilation of his essays, and was brought out in 1959 by Villiers, London, his innate pessimism about human nature stands out. Recalling the faceless man, Norman Evans, we witness his destiny: “And he has such fascinating eyes. Wide eyes they shudder to find behind blind window and closed doors, perspiring and aspiring to be redeemed on the spot, but afraid. Always afraid that someone like Mr Evans might step into the bathroom and stare with bloodshot eyeballs, and yet they expect redemption from someone unwholesome like him. Of course Mr Evans does stare through a periscope in the bath water. He is everywhere. I think the old saying about face value should not apply to Mr Evans. You see, Sir Mr Evans shouldn’t have a face at all. He is really faceless.”[10]

In many ways his gloom matched the anguish which many post-war writers and poets experienced at the time. T.S. Eliot’s chilling lines in ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ are echoed by his:

Should I, after tea and cakes and ice,

Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,

Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald)

Bought in upon a platter,

I am no prophet - and here’s no great matter;

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,

And I have seen the external Footman hold my coat,

And snicker,

And in short, I was afraid.

A pernicious writer, Souza’s cynicism even runs through his description of his own origins. In ‘Nirvana of a Maggot’, he wrote, “My childhood has been insipid - like an undigested bit of straw. I have still the taste of dung in my mouth. Where I come from they worship the cow. But nobody worships the maggot which I think might even be a venial sin against Baal-Zebub, the Lord of Maggots. But now, if they whom I want to emulate were originally maggots, would they have been they whom I want to emulate? I suppose not… My father died when I was born, like a beetle that dies having laid the egg… I can never forgive him for having died just like that, and having left me in the lurch. How could I get into the church after that?... It takes a lot of money to serve the Heavenly Father with vestments on, and an earthly father is needed to take care of it.”[11]

Souza’s fascination with the grandeur of the Roman Catholic church is matched only by the torture he felt it inflicted on him as a child, and is amply demonstrated by his stricken and terrifying depictions of Christ and the clergy. When his mother took him to Bombay to earn a living, he was expelled both from school and college: from school for making pornographic drawings in the lavatory - ‘The Jesuits who ran the school I attended knew I had a talent for drawing. Whenever there was a drawing in the lavatory, I was usually suspected of having done it. I hate bad drawing. But the art to be admired they said, was that of Hoffman - his blond operatic Christs and flaxen-haired shy Virgins. They wanted me to imitate the numberless religious oleographsmanufactured inItaly and sold to Christians all over the world, particularly in the East.”[12] Despite his buffoonery, however, he made endless life studies of models in his art classes, making meticulous observations of the human anatomy. Later Souza was expelled from the J.J. College of Art in 1945 for participating in demonstrations against British rule. It was the day that launched him on his artistic career, for he painted ‘The Blue Lady’, a monumental woman who was stark naked and frontal, and the drawing directed the course of his work in the following years.


Souza’s unabashed nudity in his paintings attracted a great deal of attention, particularly in the conservative forties and fifties. Yet for the artist it was an act of defiance, rather like the little boy who watches his mother bathing through the keyhole. In his own words: ‘My mother was like the mother of Oedipus: Spartan in shape. She was temperamentally unpredictable and very sophisticated. I used to watch her bathe herself through a hole I had bored in the door. I was afraid if she thrusts something in, I might get a bleeding eyeball. I drew her on the walls and prudes thought I was rude. I can’t see why, because as far as I can recollect, I had even painted murals on the walls of her womb.”[13] His depiction of blatantly nude woman was something of an act of defiance against forbidden act. But as always, impacted on this was the mature realisation of the prudish hypocrisy of society that repressed its own undercurrents of smut and corruption. In many ways his woman baring their thighs or sitting nude astride a chair, were in open defiance of the hypocritical mores of society. At all times, even at their demonic best, his women were monumental.

Apart from South Indian bronzes with their astonishing sense of movement, Souza was greatly impressed by the sublimely erotic carvings in Khajuraho temples. Far from shocking, his women are intriguing with their multiplicity of functions: from the courtesan to the religious. Actually Mullins noted that there was an allegiance to Indian temple sculpture which Souza was not able to rid himself of: ‘Souza brings to this European convention (nude drawings) a manner more traditionally Indian than he uses with any other theme. It is, in fact, an Indian theme as much as a European one, which his other themes are not. His woman with girdles and high rounded breasts, fastening a pin in their hair or moving as though engaged in some ritual dance - these clearly have their origins in Indian stone carvings and bronzes.’[14] Souza was acutely aware of the woman’s power, fertility and link with nature. Alkazi remembers an exceptional painting: “I remember an absolutely inspired work of one of the most beautiful women ever painted by Souza, in the collection of Krishna Paigankar. This is of the Yakshi, the full breasted woman, in the tribhanga pose, the foot touching the tree. This very powerful influence of sculpture he exploited for quite some time.”[15]

Indeed many of Souza’s erotic pictures had a different effect. ‘There was a large landscape in his 1961 exhibition at Gallery One in which couples in various stages of love making were dotted all over. The picture was quite amoral: there was really nothing about it that could either have excited or shocked anybody. The figures were just details in a rather gay, humorous landscape. This may sound incredible, but then in Europe we have never been able to accept the truly erotic as a legitimate artistic theme.”[16]

On returning home, I dress up, wear a neat tie tucked with a modest pin and having tied my shoestrings neatly. I meet my family and friends as though nothing had happened - I have acquired a certain contrived stature and respectability among them - or I undress and quietly retire to bed.” [17]

Having reached the peak of his fame Souza began to drink heavily and would often wake up in the morning and reach for the bottle. In his drunken state he would paint and friends found him totally inebriated by nights. The poet Dom Moraes writes, “In those days he drank heavily. He was also obsessed with woman. I once met him at a cocktail party, and he asked me home for a final drink. His address, which he tended to leave shrouded in mystery, was in Belsize Park, in North London. By the time we had finished our last drink, the underground and the busses had stopped, and it was too late for me to return to my proper bed. I slept in his studio, which was less messy than those of most artists. In the morning, when I awoke, I looked around and discovered some pornographic photographs on the table. Souza came with a cup of tea and saw me looking at them. ‘I use them to paint from’, he said and added cheerfully, ‘they are cheaper than models.’[18]


It was in a sodden state that Souza came to India in 1960. His work was not well received in his home country and that added to his depression. Rudi von Leyden, the intrepid art critic of the Times of India, for instance found that, ‘His many-eyed and many-toothed rakhsas whom he calls saints or gods have probably as such relation to visions of radiation victims as abstract painting has with visions of the atomic structure of matter.”[19] He returned to London, however, and got himself admitted to a clinic where he was cured of alcoholism. Yet another turning point came in Souza’s life when he decided to shift to New York in 1967 with Barbara Zinkat whom he married. But he was not to get the same reception in New York where he went largely unnoticed. Perhaps the lack of response, coupled with a failed marriage from which there was a son, had crippling effect on his work which began to lack both energy and vision. The flaccid heads which he likened to Indian deities and the pneumatic woman looked rather like holding the sinking ship aloft. Yet an occasional flash would bring an astounding head to life, revealing Souza’s liminal world.

Perhaps he too must have felt in those days of destitution in a small apartment in New York that it would have been far better to have continued living in London where his work had reached unpredictable heights. In his inimitable way he stated, ‘One of the first things to strike me about America was it is flooded with lights. I had arrived at night, and even from the air, the electric lights below on the East Coast dazzled like a galaxy turned upside down. America is illuminated day and night… Times Square whirls and swirls in honky tonk lights all twenty-four hours. In order to appreciate this incredible hub of New York City which includes 42nd Street, Sixth Avenue and Ninth Avenue, one has to be either s sophisticate or a degenerate. This whole Times Square-42nd Street area is a gigantic circus of the most degenerate kind I’ve seen anywhere in the world.

It has ‘The Life’ on it, which means the underworld community of pimps, prostitutes, hustlers andgangsters. The dudesare dressed in fancy threads, and the pimps give you a ‘flash’ - a quick glimpse by flashing her skirt in a second that’ll knock your eyeballs from their sockets. Pigalle in Paris is a prudent aunt compared the brazen wench of 42nd street.”[20]

When Souza died in Bombay in 002 his funeral was virtually unattended except for a solitary artist friend. Yet in his heyday he had been likened to artists like Bacon and there were some common features. Cruelty, flaunting of sexual mores and a penchant for the perverse were shared between the two artists though it is unlikely that they met. In the early fifties Bacon based his screaming heads and much more else on photographic sources and this was something Souza also attempted though not for homologous purposes but for his own affinity with the macabre. It is in homage to these days of powerful creativity that his paintings were exhibited at the show ‘Souza and Friends’ at the Grosvenor Gallery, London, in September 2002. Needless to say his work is part of the collection of the Tate, the British and the Victoria and Albert Museum.


A prolific writer and artist Souza gained considerably by being situated in an international arena. His association with poets and writers enlarged his pernicious world view and his own energy contributed to the shared vision of the times. Alkazi remembers: “There was this euphoria about setting up a new world order which was very exciting and we felt we should participate in it... People like Auden and Spender were around and very soon after we came to England, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) was set up by Herbert Reed. Herbert Reed was very important and influential in those times. Roger Fry, Clive Bell and then Herbert Reed whose books on art were found very stimulating, were much in the public eye. The ICA was set up by people who were close to the Surrealists as well as the School of Paris and the avant garde in England - people like Ben Nicholson, Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore and so on. In comparison institutions set up by the British in India, like the Bombay Art Society, seemed very dull and staid.” [21] Ironically it was his rebellion against the British colonial vision as it permeated down to him from his education and institutions like the Bombay Art Society which had in the first place led to Souza’s growth. When he formed the Progressive Artist’s Group in 1947 in Bombay that consisted of artists like M.F. Husain and S.H. Raza, their manifesto decried the academic art taught in institutions and the work of the Bengal School. He was more than scathing in his criticism of British art. “The root of the word progress - ‘pro’ means forward, and that is where we want to go - Forward! English memsahibs like Mrs Newsom, Mrs Blundel and Lady Temple, who instead of doing needlework, painted to pass the time between playing with tea cups and chaprasis, and their painting were shown at the Bombay Art Society’s annual shows, which were occasions for more hen parties, and worthy of comments from retired British colonels and Anglo-Indian Sea Captains such as: ‘Jolly good show by the old girs, eh what!’ And of course all these Bombay Art Society annuals were opened ceremoniously by the various governors of Bombay, who were then British of course… And I could see the reason for this mess in art was simple. Not counting the pastime efforts of the British memsahibs, the whole output by our native artists lacked inspiration and direction. Ganging up with the best and the most vital among us seemed to be a solution. That the formation of PAG coincided with the Independence of India was symbolic, but coincidental.”[22] The double-edged relationship which Souza had with British was emblematic of the times as well as his own propinquity to stretch the limits of his existence.

The formation of the PAG resulted in a bold, new thrust towards modernism that amalgamated international modernism with the experience of being rooted in India. Although the group held together for barely a few years and was considerably depleted of its energy with the departure of Souza for London in 1949, it set the course for contemporary Indian art. In the paradigms of modernism that had been formulated, with the amalgamation of Eastern and Western idioms, a new energy was released which was hybrid, diverse and imbued with a panoptic vision.


[1] Mullins, Edwin, ‘F.N. Souza’ Anthony Blond Limited, London, 1962.

[2] Alkazi, Ebrahim, interview with the writer, New Delhi, 1990.

[3] Mullins, Edwin, Op.cit.

[4] Mullins, Edwin, Ibid.

[5] Berger, John, New Statesman, London, 25 Feburary, 1955.

[6] Sylvester, David, New Statesman, London, 14 December, 1957.

[7] Mullins, Edwin, Op.cit

[8] Souza, F.N. TO Robert Melville published by Delhi Art Gallery in the catalogue ‘Demonic Lines” by Yashodhara Dalmia, New Delhi, 18 December, 2000 to 13 January, 2001.

[9] Souza, F.N., Interview with the writer, Mumbai, 1991

[10] Souza, F.N., Words and Lines, reprinted Nitin Bhayana Publishing, Delhi 1999.

[11] Souza, F.N., Ibid.

[12] Souza, F.N., Ibid.

[13] Mullins, Edwin, Op.cit.

[14] Mullins, Edwin, Op.cit.

[15] Alkazi, Ebrahim, interview with the writer, New Delhi, 1990.

[16] Mullins, Edwin, Op.cit.

[18] Moraes, Dom, Sunday Mid-Day, Mumbai, 15 March, 1992.

[19] Leyden, R.V., Times of India, Mumbai, 31 March, 1961.

[20] Souza, F.N. ‘The view from New York’, The Times Weekly, Mumbai, 23 December, 1973.

[21] Alkazi, Ebrahim, Op.cit.

[22] Souza, F.N., Patriot, New Delhi, 12 February, 1984
Published in a catalogue for the exhibition ‘Souza’ (2004) curated by Yashodhara Dalmia.
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