25 September, 2020

Art: Francis Newton Souza

Always provocative and irreverent, Souza was the enfant terrible of Indian art and his colourful career was interesting to the bitter end...

Art: Francis Newton Souza
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
During a discourse on the varying approaches of artists painting the female nude, I once asked Souza why he painted women with such exaggeratedly large breasts. The incorrigible Souza replied: "If you knew the women, I know you'd realise that this is no exaggeration!" This small, unhandsome, untidy man seemed to have insatiable appetites, and a series of liaisons (with ample-breasted women of younger and younger vintage as he grew older!). Always provocative and irreverent, Souza was the enfant terrible of Indian art and his colourful career was interesting to the bitter end.

Born in Goa, Francis Newton Souza spent a whole lifetime repudiating his Catholic roots and yet some of his most powerful paintings depicted Christ as in his famous Last Supper. Always a rebel, from the time he was kicked out of Art School, through his solo exhibition where a full frontal male nude shocked Bombay society and the police had to intervene, Souza went on to found the Progressive Artist's Group whose landmark show in the '50s was to shape the future of contemporary Indian Art.

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