In this post, I’m taking a closer look at the work of artist F.N. Souza from an exhibition called ‘All Too Human’ held at Tate Britain from the 28th of February to the 27th of August 2018. The show brought a wide range of artists together who mainly focus on painting people but also on depicting interiors, landscapes and the surroundings that they live in. The exhibition included artwork by artists like Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Jenny Saville and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, but it is the work of F.N. Souza that really grabbed me.
Souza’s artworks are bold, direct and graphic. They are not quiet – they shout out and grab our attention. The artworks on show included several portraits and landscapes. The figures are usually flattened into spiky shapes with bold outlines. Facial features become simplified and stylized and colours are heightened with strong contrasts and deep tones. The surface of the pictures look gnarled with dragged or thickly layered paint. They are vibrant, borderline aggressive and monstrous, but they also capture moments of deep sadness and tenderness.
Francis Newton Souza, also known as F.N Souza, was born in the village of Saligao in Goa, India in 1924. Souza was brought up in a conservative environment with strict Catholic parents but this did not stop his creative development. His artistic talent was often an outlet for rebellion. He was expelled from a college in Mumbai for drawing graffiti in a toilet and later for supporting the Quit India Movement – a social and political movement launched by Mahatma Ghandhi aiming to stop the British rule of India.
In 1947, the same year of India’s independence, Souza became a founding member of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group. The group encouraged artists to explore Indian, European and North American art history and for artists to exhibit in internationally. Souza moved to London in 1949 and then to New York in 1967 to pursue his artistic career. He passed away in 2002.
To find out more about the artist please follow the links below.