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    Sale 2270

    South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art

    19 March 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1031

    FRANCIS NEWTON SOUZA (1924-2002)

    The Tree Arch on the Road to Hawley Lake, Arizona

    Price Realised  


    FRANCIS NEWTON SOUZA (1924-2002)
    The Tree Arch on the Road to Hawley Lake, Arizona
    signed 'Souza 71' (upper left); signed, inscribed, titled and dated 'F.N. SOUZA The Tree Arch on the Road to Hawley Lake, Arizona. 1971 oil on canvas-board 20 x 24' (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas board
    24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.8 cm.)
    Painted in 1971

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    Souza traveled extensively in the seventies. Boarding a Greyhound bus Souza traversed the country's interstate routes and highways absorbing a kaleidoscopic vision of the American landscape as it streamed by his bus window. Shifting his American vision from a focused and contemplative view of New York City to shutter-style snapshots of a virgin landscape, Souza's style evolved yet again. Painted from the memory of a previous trip west, The Tree Arch on the Road to Hawley Lake, Arizona is not a landscape dominated by black lines, it is one of dynamic color and molten forms. The image, rather than being defined by the formalism of black lines, is entirely subsumed by bright colors and heavy impasto brushwork. Painted during a time when Souza discovered the writings of the Bhagavad Gita, this painting is a direct reflection of his uncontrollable painterly passion, and overarching sense of spirit and joy.

    In a trance of complete painterly ecstasy, jabbing and jiving within the moment of painterly delight, Souza anoints the surface of the painting with rich gems of color squeezed straight from the tube. It is obvious that Souza's abandonment of the black line and direct application of the paint from the tube was a reaction to the uncontrolled "drip works" of Jackson Pollock, which he was re-examining in 1971. Souza writes "Looked thru[sic] Jackson Pollock catalog again [...] which I bought Feb 13, 1969. Although I found the photo of Jackson as a little boy feeding chicken[sic] with a sauce pan very domesticated and quaint for a great sophisticated N.Y. painter, running through the plates made me feel not nostalgia but nausea!" (F. N. Souza, Diary, 31 May 1971) The notion that the physical act of painting-the proximity and immediacy of the artist's gesture coupled with the aspect of chance-could achieve a true expressionism, was essential to the work of the Abstract Expressionists, especially Pollock. It is likely that Souza's general dissatisfaction with and "nausea" for Pollock stems from the uncontrolled nature of the "drip works." Here, Souza has so much confidence in his gesture that he jettisons use of the black line completely-it is no longer used to maintain order within his composition. Color is set free from the linear constraints and directly controlled by Souza's mastery of technique. Unlike the unconscious gestures of Pollock, Souza's painting never surrendered to automatic action and unforeseen results. This painting was made from a personal memory, plucked from a particular time and space. Souza's grip tightened around the paint tube and the result was what he himself describes as "'Creative Joy' despite a world filled with tragedy, wars, suffering and death" (F. N. Souza, Diary, 31 May 1971).

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from The Estate of F.N. Souza