Chance, executed in 1966 embodies some of Souza's most characteristic thematic and formative elements within one skillful composition. Souza "[...] often builds up an image by using a mass of loops and small circles of dark paint superimposed onto broad swathes of rich colour, so that although the image is never quite lost, its architectural formality dissolves into a kind of passionate dance." (E. Mullins, F. N. Souza, London, 1962, p.30) The roulette wheel, game board and gamblers are colored with the same rich primary colors and bold black lines suggesting that they are all extensions of the game and their fates are tied to one another. The gamblers are Souza's typical degenerative cast of characters. The men are dressed in black-tie attire and the eroticized woman is elaborately adorned with gold jewelry. Their heads are distorted and reconfigured as they stand around the spinning roulette wheel waiting in anticipation.
Underlining this work is the artist's preoccupation with understanding the predicament of modern society and the role of the church and religion in our lives. Are the gamblers greedy humans indulging in the sinful act of gambling or are they clerics, or maybe even gods standing around a prophetic table using the roulette wheel to determine the fates of their people? Are the images of Souza's demonic humans recreations of the image of god as reflected in man?
This work was executed during his last year in England, shortly after he married Barbara Zinkant. At this major crossroad in his life, Souza, with the patronage and support of the dealer - collector Eugene Schuster, set his sights on New York.
"In 1964 I met a beautiful girl. She was very blonde and blue eyed, and she was sixteen years old. I left my common law wife (mistress) and began courting this young girl, Barbara Zinkant. Then bought a mews-flat, and she came to live with me. It was a fabulous love nest. And it recharged my vigor because I was already forty years old. In the following year (1965) I married Barbara - she was seventeen and I was nearly forty one. [...] We had planned to live in Delhi. So we returned to London to wind things up. But destiny had other plans. An American art dealer [Eugene Schuster] called at my studio and offered me a contract that would enable me and my wife to live in the United States of America." (Artist quote, Written interview with Varsha, Christie's London, 9 June 2010, lot 102)
Meeting Schuster was a real twist of fate. Souza accepted his destiny, took a chance and left for New York in 1967. This work was executed at the height of Souza's career and was among the many significant works consigned to Schuster.