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Check out rare, early F N Souza paintings, as a Mumbai gallery turns 10

11 artworks are on display at Colaba space Akara Art, including a self-portrait and one of the master artist’s earliest known paintings.

mumbai Updated: May 13, 2019 19:24 IST
Natasha Rego
Natasha Rego
Hindustan Times
FN Souza,Souza,Cyclops
An untitled watercolour of a Cyclops, painted in 1939, when Souza would have been about 16 years old. It was listed as one of the artist’s earliest known works, when it was auctioned by Christie’s in London in 2010.
FN Souza – Luminous Solitude
  • Where: Akara art gallery, Colaba
  • When: May 18 to June 22 (Closed on Sundays and Mondays)
  • Entry is free

Paintings by FN Souza rarely seen on exhibition will be under one roof, at the Akara art gallery, next week.

The show, titled ‘Luminous Solitude’, presents 11 pieces by the Modernist master from across four decades, the ’60s through the ’90s, including a rare self-portrait and one of his earliest known paintings.

This early work is an untitled watercolour of a Cyclops from 1939, when Souza would have been about 16. This was, of course, years before he joined the JJ School of Art, from which he was eventually expelled, in 1945, for participating in the Quit India Movement.

Though paintings of faces form a major part of his oeuvre, Souza had not made many self-portraits. This one from 1985 was made when distortion in figures became an eloquent part of his visual language.

The painting of the Cyclops first appeared on the art scene as part of the Art of Souza auction by Christie’s in London in 2010, where a bulk of artwork from the artist’s estate went under the hammer.

At Akara, Luminous Solitude is part of a 10-year anniversary celebration. “We’ve been working on this show for a while and have managed to get, from private collections, works that have not been exhibited in Mumbai for at least a decade,” says Puneet Shah, founder of the gallery.

Souza has not made many self-portraits, so it is always interesting to see his depiction of himself in a particular period of his life, Shah adds. “In his self-portrait of 1985, his eyes look downwards in a pensive, even somber, manner, yet the background ignites with vivid flourishes of yellow and blue. This was made in the decade when distortion in figures became an eloquent part of his language.”

The ten-year anniversary celebrations were kick-started last month, with an exhibition of works by Amrita Sher-Gil. Up next in the 10-part series of shows, will be a Husain-Raza exhibition. Look out for that in July.

First Published: May 13, 2019 14:50 IST