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Francis Newton Souza View Artworks of Francis Newton Souza Back to Artist

Francis Newton Souza was born in 1924 in Saligao, Goa. After losing his father at a very young age and being afflicted by a serious bout of small pox, he vowed to go about life his own way. He was expelled from the Sir J.J. School of Art, Bombay and later, as he insisted on saying, from his own country. He would shift continents before settling in New York for the Goa born artist , who was bought up by his Catholic mother to become a priest, showed early signs of rebelliousness, that was to become an integral part of his life. His rebellious nature made him join the Communist Party which he soon rejected. He was also the founder member and spokesperson of the Progressive Artists’ Group which he later abandoned in order to pursue a painterly career in Europe.


Souza chose to lay bare the ugly and grotesque in everyday life, without any embellishments whatsoever. Closest to European modernism, Souza is known for his inventive human forms, the heads in particular. Souza’s work is not pleasing to the eye, rather it lashes out at the eye, challenging the human eye’s very notions of beauty and aesthetics. The large heads with the exaggerated features exude an almost childlike vulnerability, yet very macabre at its core. Souza’s heads portray the vulnerability of the underdog, those who lives on the fringes of the modern metropolis. The subjects of his interest are not grand and beautiful people – it is rather the grotesque other of that celebrated aesthetics, that ugliness that is shoved off under the carpet.  Just as Souza’s heads become symbolic of the fragmented human subjectivity, the nudes portray the exaggerated female form, not with voluptuous beauty like Hussain’s women but rather with the characteristic ugliness and coarseness that is closer to life.


He found his own blunt, extreme style by combining the expressionism of Rouault and Soutine with the spirit of cubism and the sculptures of classical Indian tradition. Souza combined fierce lines with cruel humour. Nudes, landscapes and portraits – he painted in every style and every medium, even inventing ‘ chemical alterations’ – a method of drawing with the use of chemical solvent on a printed page without destroying the glossy surface. This helped the artist with the experiment of layering of multiple imagery, thus creating several simultaneous narratives.



  1960 Study Tour of Italy on an Italian Government Scholarship

  1940-45 Diploma in Painting, Sir J.J.School of Arts, Mumbai


Selected Posthumous Exhibitions

  2017 'Man Grinding His Teeth', Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), New Delhi

  2017 'The Progressive Master: Francis Newton Souza from the Rajadhyaksha Collection', Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, Ohio

  2016 'Indian Modernist Landscapes, 1950-1970, Bakre / Ribeiro / Souza', Grosvenor Gallery, London

 2015 'Francis Newton Souza : Works on Paper', Kanoria Centre For Arts, Ahmedabad; Gallery 7, Mumbai

  2015 'Abby Grey and Indian Modernism: Selections from the NYU Art Collection', Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York

  2014 'Rituals and Reasons: Invoking the Sensual in Art', Apparao Galleries, Chennai

  2013 'Ram Kumar and the Bombay Progressives: The Form and the Figure Part II', Aicon Gallery, New York

  2013 'Ideas of the Sublime', presented by Vadehra Art Gallery at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

  2013 'Panoplism', Nature Morte, New Delhi

  2013 'Edge of Reason- and beyond, into pure creativity', presented by Indian Art Circle at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

  2013 'The Naked and the Nude: The Body in Indian Modern Art', Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2012 'Diva', Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai

  2012 'Talking Heads', Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi

  2012 'Iconic Processions', Aicon Gallery, New York

  2012 'Extending the Line', Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2012 'Gallery Collection', Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2012 'Migrations', Tate Britain, London

  2012 'F.N.Souza: Landsacpes, Heads and Nudes', Grosvenor Gallery, London

  2012 'Contemporary: A Selection of Modern and Contemporary Art', prsented by Sakshi Gallery at The Park, Chennai

  2012 'Through the Ages: South Asian Sculpture and Painting from Antiquity to Modernism', Aicon Gallery, New York

  2012 'Crossings: Time Unfolded, Part 2', Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), New Delhi

  2011-12 'The Body Unbound', Rubin Museum of Art, New York

  2011-12 'Picasso Souza', Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2011 'Ethos V: Indian Art Through the Lens of History (1900 to 1980), Indigo Blue Art, Singapore

  2011 'The Path of the Lotus: Indian Art', Grosvenor Gallery, London

  2011 'Modern Masters', Aicon Gallery, New York

  2011 'Ida Kar: Portraits of F N Souza', British Council, New Delhi; Grosvenor Vadehra, London; Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai; Sunaparanta Goa Centre, Panjim

  2011 ‘Manifestations VI', Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2011 'Seduction by Masquerade', Nature Morte, New Delhi

  2011 'States of Departure: Progressives to Present Day', Aicon Gallery, London

  2011 'POP: Progressives on Paper', Aicon Gallery, New York

  2011 'Anecdotes', Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai

  2011 'Natural Bodies, Subverted Canons', Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2011 'Goddess, Lion, Peasant, Priest: Modern and Contemporary Indian Art', from the Collection of Shelley and Donald Rubin at Museum Oglethorpe, Atlanta

  2011 'High-Light', presented by Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai at The Oberoi, Gurgaon

  2011 ‘Manifestations V', Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2011 'Masterclass', Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2011 'Time Unfolded', Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), New Delhi

  2011 'Roots in the Air, Branches Below: Modern & Contemporary Art from India', San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose

  2011 'Continuum', Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2011 'Celebrations 2011', Kumar Gallery, New Delhi

  2010-11 'Figure/Landscape: Part Two', Aicon Gallery, London

  2010 Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai

  2010 'Figure/Landscape: Part One', Aicon Gallery, New York

  2010 'The Modernists', RL Fine Arts, New York

  2010 'Paper Trails', Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2010 'A Missing History: 'The Other Story' Re-visited', Aicon Gallery, London

  2010 'The Progressives & Associates', Grosvenor Gallery, London

  2010 'A. SYCO', The Viewing Room, Mumbai

  2010 'From Miniature to Modern: Traditions in Transition', Rob Dean Art, London in association with Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai

  2010 'Volte-Face: Souza's Iconoclastic Vision', presented by Dhoomimal Gallery at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

  2010 'Cross Purposes', Mascalls Gallery, West Kent; Ben Uri Museum, London

  2010 'Vahana', Bombay Art Gallery, Mumbai

  2010 'Manifestations IV', Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2010 'Roots', 25th Anniversary Exhibition of Sakshi Art Gallery, Mumbai at The Park, Chennai

  2010 'Celebration 2010', Annual Exhibition, Kumar Art Gallery, New Delhi

 2009 'Master Class', The Arts Trust, Mumbai

  2009 'Bazgasht: Traditional Methods and Modern Practices, The Revival of Miniature Paintings from the Sub-Continent', Art Gallery of Mississauga, Mississauga, Ontario

  2009 'Anglo-Indian Express', Grosvenor Gallery, London

  2009 'Bharat Ratna! Jewels of Modern Indian Art', Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

  2009 'Indian Art After Independence: Selected Works from the Collections of Virginia & Ravi Akhoury and Shelley & Donald Rubin', Emily Lowe Gallery, Hempstead   2009 'F.N.Souza: Heads, Landscapes and Nudes', Grosvenor Gallery, London

  2009 'In Search of the Vernacular', Aicon Gallery, New York

  2009 'Progressive to Altermodern: 62 Years of Indian Modern Art', Grosvenor Gallery, London

  2009 'Kalpana: Figurative Art in India', presented by The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) at Aicon Gallery, London; The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR)

  2009 'Tracing Time', Bodhi Art, Mumbai

  2009 'Armory Show', New York presented by Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2008-09 ''Modern India', organized by Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (IVAM) and Casa Asia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture at Valencia, Spain

  2008-09 ‘Expanding Horizons: Contemporary Indian Art’, Traveling Exhibition presented by Bodhi Art at Ravinder Natya Mandir, P.L.Despande Kala Academy Art Gallery, Mumbai; Sant Dyaneshwar Natya Sankul Art Gallery, Amravati; Platinum Jubilee Hall, Nagpur; Tapadia Natya Mandir Sports Hall, Aurangabad; Hirachand Nemchand Vachanalay’s, Solapur; Acharya Vidyanand Sanskrutik Bhavan, Kolhapur; PGSR Sabhagriha, SNDT, Pune; Sarvajanik Vachanalaya Hall, Nasik

  2008 'Frame Figure Field: 20th Century Modern and Contemporary Indian Art', Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2008 '3 Masters Briefly', Akar Prakar, Kolkata

  2008 'F.N.Souza', presented by Saffronart and Grosvenor Gallery, London at Saffronart, New York

  2008 'Modern and Contemporary Indian Art', Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2008 'Multiple Modernities: India, 1905-2005', Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA

  2008 ‘Freedom 2008: Sixty Years After Indian Independence’, Centre for International Modern Art (CIMA), Kolkata

  2008 'Tales, Reflection and Constructs', ITC Windsor, Bangalore

  2007-08 ‘India Art Now: Between Continuity and Transformation’, Province of Milan, Milan

  2007 'Bacon, Freud, Souza and Mehta', Grosvenor Vadehra, New Delhi

  2007 'Painting Without Paint: The Chemical Paintings of FN Souza', R L Fine Arts, New York

  2005/6 'F. N. Souza: Religion and Erotica', Tate Britain, London

  2005 Ashta Nayak: Eight Pioneers of Indian Art', Aicon Gallery, New York

  2005/6 'Self-Portrait: Renaissance to Contemporary', National Portrait Gallery, London

  2005 'Francis Newton Souza', Saffronart and Grosvenor Gallery, London and New York

  2005 'Modern Indian Paintings', Grosvenor Gallery, London

  2005 'A Tribute to F. N. Souza', Kumar Gallery, New Delhi

  2005 'Manifestations III', Nehru Centre, Mumbai; Rabindra Bhavan, New Delhi, and Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2004 'Manifestations II', Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai and Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2004 'Ethos: Contemporary Indian Art', Indigo Blue Art, Singapore

  2004 'Souza in London', curated by Yashodhara Dalmia from the Bhayana family collection, British Council, New Delhi

  2003 'Modern Indian Painting', Grosvenor Gallery, London

  2003 'Francis Newton Souza: Works on Paper', Saffronart, Mumbai

  2003 'F.N Souza: A Definitive Retrospective', Gallery Artsindia, New York

  2003 'Manifestations', Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2002 'Souza and Friends', Grosvenor Gallery, London


  2001 'Francis Newton Souza Rare Works: 1965-2001', Galerie 88, Kolkata

  1999 Copeland Fine Art Gallery, Columbus, Ohio,USA

  1998 Bose Pacia Modern, New York

  1997 Julian Hartnolls Gallery, London

  1996 Art Heritage, NEw Delhi

  1996 'Souza from the Alkazi Collection',Academy of Fine Arts and Literature New Delhi.

  1993 'Souza, 1940s-1990s Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi

  1986 Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi

  1983 'Souza in the Forties' Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi

  1985 Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai

  1976 Dhoomimal Art Gallery,New Delhi

  1975,76 Arts 38 London

  1968 London Arts Gallery Detroit,USA

  1966 Dhoomimal Art Gallery,New Delhi

  1966 Grosvenor Gallery, London

  1963 Taj Gallery Mumbai

  1962 Kumar Gallery New Delhi

  1961 Gallery One, London

 1961,62 North Audley Street London

  1960 Gallery One, London

  1959 Gallery One, London

  1957 Gallery One, London

  1955 Gallery One, London

  1954 Institute of Contemporary Arts, London

 1954 Gallery Creuze,London



  2001 'Souza and Baiju', Saffronart and Apparao Galleries, Mumbai

  1996 National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai

  1996,93 LTG Gallery, New Delhi

  1987 Coups de Coeur, Halles de L’Ile, Geneva

  1986 Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi

  1982 'Modern Indian Paintings',Hirschorn Museum & Sculpture Garden Washington D.C

  1982 India: Myth and Reality, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford

  1982 Contemporary Indian Art, Royal Academy, London

  1977 'Commonwealth Artists of Fame' London

  1967 Guggenheim Foundation USA

  1965 Art Now in India, London

  1964 Grosvenor Gallery, 1964

  1962 Commonwealth Institute, London

  1957 John Moore's Exhibition, Walker Art Gallery Liverpool

  1956,57,59,60 Gallery One, London

  1954 Venice Biennale Italy

  1954 Institute of Contemporary Arts, London

  1949 Bombay Art Society Salon, Mumbai

  1948 Burlington House Gallery London

  1947 Progressive Artists Group, Mumbai


Honours and Awards


  1998 Kalidas Sanman, Government of Madhya Pradesh, India

  1967 Guggenheim International Award, New York

  1960 Italian Government Scholarship (through the British Council)

 1957 John Moores Prize, Liverpool


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