An Intriguing Group Show Explores the Ethnic Identities of India’s Diaspora Artists
Souza worked under the patronage of Mr. Harold Kovner, who was Souza’s biggest benefactor in the 1950’s. He discovered Souza’s works upon visiting one of the early exhibitions in London, befriended the artist and then put him on a retainer. Souza has said that he never reproduced the quality of the works that he did for Kovner.
Houses at Night comes from the collection of Richard Weaver (1909-1998), the former Secretary-Treasurer of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers. He was known as “The Lion of the Theater World”. Harold Kovner, one of Souza’s patrons, was part of Weaver’s weekly poker games which included Tennessee Williams and John Houston among others.
Francis Newton Souza was one of the first painters to achieve international recognition from a newly independent India, as well as a leading figure of its avant-garde movement. As a result of his time spent abroad, Souza’s style drew heavily from Expressionism and Art Brut. Often referred to as the “Indian Picasso”, Souza became known for his aggressive lines and thick application of color. He was fascinated with images of the sacred and the profane, and the boundary that divided them; his favorite subjects included the human figure, frequently depicted engaging in erotic acts and organized rituals of religion. Souza was also responsible for co-founding the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group in 1947, which sought to encourage artists to depict Indian subject matter with Western Modernist styles.