Cityscapes were the cornerstone in Francis Newton Souza's paintings from the 1950s and 60s. Jagdish Swaminathan noted how Souza's cityscapes were "singularly devoid of emotive inhibitions." They are the "congealed visions of a mysterious world." (J. Swaminathan, 'Souza's Exhibition', Lalit Kala Contemporary 40, New Delhi, March 1995, p. 31)
Red Houses explores the relationship between the natural and urban, between nature and mankind. His use of bold black lines to divide the buildings into a multitude of geometric shapes reveal the influence of stained glass windows on his early cityscapes. This is further emphasised through his specific use of colour. The rich dark blue and black background is dissected by the meandering red and orange terrace of houses, separating the deep dark blue sky above and the vibrant green grass below. The corniced buildings, twisting line and piercing steeple-like chimney allude to Souza's immediate North London surrounding. However they also strongly suggest Catholic architecture. This landscape augmented by rich blues, luminous greens, radiant reds and yellows, is reminiscent of stained glass windows found in churches further alluding to the Catholic imagery that would perennially permeate his practice.
Behind this architectonic almost monolithic horizon of buildings lies a sense of foreboding, where the pastoral and urban traditions collide in a celebration of visceral violence. Juxtaposing naturalism with reverential expression, Souza represents the landscape as a scene of primordial power. This work is almost abstract with its exaltation of geometric forms which hold existential undercurrents, the absence of humanity at such an epicentre of civilization, where religion, modernity and nature coexist in perpetual struggle and antagonism.