In 1940, Francis Newton Souza was a founder member of the Progressive Artists Group that was largely responsible for shaping the modern art movement in India. He moved to London in 1948, where he was befriended by Stephen Spender, Editor of the popular literary magazine: Encounter. Exhibitions in London followed in the 50s, and he became a celebrated artist in Europe. In the late 50s and early 60s, Souza received highly positive critical reviews and was one of five painters chosen to represent Britain at the Guggenheim International Award.
Souza moved to New York in 1967, and there he executed a series of American scenes in a bright, impasto style.
Souza begin to visit India in the late 1980s, and stopped in Karachi en route to Goa. He found there was a strong interest in his work and a demand from art dealers and collectors. Souza became firm friends with Bashir Mirza and Wahab Jaffer, both of whom he initiated in to the media of acrylic paint. In Karachi, Souza would exhibit his work at the Indus Gallery with S.Ali Imam. Imam was the brother of Sayed Haider Raza, Souza’s old friend and fellow founder of the PAG in Bombay. In Bombay and New Delhi, Souza mounted a number of exhibitions with galleries having long association with his work.
Souza was also recognized as a writer. He reflected on his early life and art “I don’t believe that a true artist paints for coteries or for the proletariat. I believe with all my soul that he paints solely for himself.”
Souza’s work is in collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Tate Gallery, London. In 2005, an exhibition of the artist’s paintings were displayed at the Tate Gallery, where many artists and art enthusiasts had the opportunity to view an extensive collection of Souza’s paintings for the first time and to verify the tribute paid to Souza by M.F.Husain: “…he is the most significant painter, almost a genius.”