Modern and Contemporary Art from India
February 25, 2011 through September 4, 2011, San Jose Museum of Art
  UNTITLED, 1964
Oil on board
30 x 24 inches
Collection of Asha and Rajeev Motwani
Photo: Courtesy Sotheby’s, Inc
Francis Newton Souza
Born 1924, Goa, India
Died 2002, Mumbai
In 1947, Francis Newton Souza was a founding member of the Progressive Artists Group, a collective of six artists dedicated to forging a visual aesthetic for the newly emancipated India. From the outset of his career, Souza focused on depicting the human figure in a raw, expressionistic style. He explained: “The advantage a figurative painter has over the abstract artist is sheer impact: the brute force of an expressionist painting of a large, distorted suggestive naked lady can overwhelm the bravest abstract painting….” 1

In the 1950s and1960s, Souza created portraits of distorted and mutated human heads in an effort to expose the greed and cruelty of human nature. His representations of the human figure spoke to the challenges facing a nation struggling to assert its identity.

1 Francis Newton Souza, quoted in Yashodhara Dalmia, The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 79.