PROPERTY FORMERLY IN A PRIVATE AMERICAN COLLECTION
Oil on board
30 x 24 in. (76.2 x 61 cm.)
Signed and dated 'Souza / 1949' upper right
Solo Exhibition, London Arts Gallery, Detroit, 1968.
Even from the earliest decade of Souza's painting career, the woman in many different avatars has been omnipresent. The aggressive, often distorted female of the later years first appeared on his canvas in a completely different form.
Both Souza and his friend and fellow artist M.F. Husain were inspired by classical Indian sculpture. In 1947 the two travelled to New Delhi to visit the India Independence Exhibition at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The classical sculptures in the exhibition had a huge impact on the two artists, offering them both a visual vocabulary that was different from the Greco-Roman representation of the human form that had influenced so much of Western art.
Mullins states 'Souza made a passionate study of Indian art, and was particularly moved by the South Indian bronzes - with their symbolism and their astonishing feeling for movement, and by the sublimely erotic carvings on the temples of Khajuraho. Both of these made a lasting impression on him, and were largely responsible for awakening the imagination of the young painter.' (Edwin Mullins, Souza, London, 1962, p. 16)
In the years immediately following this visit, Souza created several drawings and painting that paid homage to classical sculpture, specifically South Indian temple sculpture spanning the 11th - 13th centuries as seen in the current lot. The elaborate, conical headgear and the large hoop earrings, coupled with the gentle tribhanga and hand in abhaya mudra are reminiscent of Chola and Chalukyan iconography. The monochromatic palette and thick application of paint create dramatic light and shadow on the surface, thereby heightening the overall impact of the painting.
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About The Artist:
FRANCIS NEWTON SOUZA (1924 - 2002)