Featured in ARTIANA’s upcoming online auction on December 6-10, 2018, is this striking painting by artist Francis Newton Souza – ‘Red Houses with Front Garden’. This work of the artist had been exhibited and published in the South Asian Modern Masters of Grosvenor Gallery in London.
Francis Newton Souza is arguably one of the greatest and most celebrated painters in the history of Indian contemporary art. Versatile and spontaneous over the command of his pen and brush, his facility with his craft shows in the diversity of his works. From landscapes, nudes, still-life and to his widely popular strongly drawn heads, Souza spanned the entire gamut.
Painted in 1957, the picture is part of the culmination of both technique and subject in the artist’s prime decade. “Red Houses with Front Garden” depicts an English suburban landscape in Souza’s signature strong and expressive style. The houses, situated in a grassy space, are rendered in simple rectilinear structures punctuated by gnarled trees. The trees set in the foreground give the picture a sense of depth. Unlike other artists, Souza’s landscape is not figurative or life-like, instead, they are vehicles of his mood and expression. Inspired by the ecclesiastical architecture of the Roman Catholic churches from his native Goa, the palette of the work was indicative of Souza’s interest in stained-glass windows illustrated with his use of luminous hues framed by dark outlines. Like his other landscapes, the sky appears stormy and turbulent lending a disconcerting sense in the otherwise peaceful scenario. This can be attributed to Souza’s angular brush strokes.
M.F. Husain’s ‘A Magician Dangles the Fortune Bird in a Cage’ (2005) is expected to go under the hammer on 6-10 December 2018 at ARTIANA’s South Asian Art online auction. This important work is part of the seminal ‘The Lost Continent’ Series exhibited at The Arts House in Singapore and at the prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
In the last years of his creativity, MF Husain, age 95 was India’s best-known painter. During his long prolific career as an artist, he was a witness as history unfolds; from the great wars being fought, through genocides and holocaust, the partition and the unfurling of his nation from the British Raj to modern India. He witnessed deprivation, violence and rapid deterioration of human values across the world. In pursuing the theme, he dedicated his art to express the great loss he called, “The Lost Continent” which he made into a 21-part series chronicling his thoughts about lost human values.
In the painting where a magician dangles the fortune bird in a cage, “the bird is surrounded by a mosaic of riotous color. The bird is held by the stark blue hands of a magician, who is covered in a white cloth and slowly considering his next move. The composition lures viewers into a terrain where play and uncertainty coexist.”1 The title suggests a magician dangling the bird in a cage, just like in the popular magic trick; but behind the act is the magician knowing the true nature of the trick, concealed by the sleight of hand. Concurrently referencing Mahabharata, the blue hands signify Lord Krishna as he oversees the fate of the world. Starting from the game of dice, a key incident in the great epic, deceit had been a powerful driving force that ultimately led to the cosmic war from which the order of the universe was achieved. He orchestrated the war and change the whole course of the epic in ways more than one. Despite knowing the outcome, Lord Krishna let the events unfold and ensured that everyone answers to the laws of karma. Through the act of deception, he restores dharma into the world.
The immense narrative and pivotal personas that Husain picked from the epics convey deep meaning more than the explicit imagery. His symbolic images are introduced naturally in continual juxtaposition and serves as the foundation of his work. Husain used strong even coarse lines of Jain miniature painting to express energy and movement and sharp colors in basic simple design within a strong broad border as influenced by the Basholi period. The demotic stylistics, the use of symbols, folk elements, and vibrant colors have come to characterize Husain’s signature style.
Text Reference:Hwee Koon, MF Husain: The Lost Continent