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The Collection of K.B. Goel
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF MR. K.B. GOEL, ART CRITIC
Five chemical works by Francis Newton Souza from the Collection of the distinguished art critic K.B. Goel.
'Souza is famous for his inflammatory treatment of heads. The iconography is morbidly personal, the distortion grotesque to the point of a neurotic edge; the image proper shows mannerisms played to the dark labyrinth of the psyche'. So wrote the eminent art critic K.B. Goel in an article in the Times of India, Delhi August 1990.
In another article, in the same year he describes Souza's chemicals as 'pictures of things taken from glossy art magazines, ... defaced and chemically altered, they achieve a new emotional and personal content...'. He continues 'Their closeness to print culture demands that they are read as a self-apparent play of graffiti space. They also speak of how the artist's whimsies have transparent windows and how we ourselves enjoy looking through them to admire the compositional sense of how the game is played. It is the same old game Souza is adept at, one which allows him to break (down) our inhibitions and undo our muscle-bound understanding'. The two men had, by then, been friends for many years as Souza relates in a letter to Goel from New York, 20 October, 1976, 'My friendship with you goes back to early 1965 when I was in Delhi, just married, on a honeymoon with my seventeen-year-old bride, and you used to accompany us to the melas (festivals) etc. and show us the city, and we'd talk of all kinds of things. I had noted that your writing in Thought on art - you had written an article on me - was the best of its kind'.
These five chemicals were gifts from Souza to the Goel family. Their extensive and warmly phrased correspondence, over 3 decades, sometimes several times a month, reveals the great affection in which they held each other. Souza wrote about the great issues of the day - the atomic bomb which appalled him, the 'ignorance' of Indian politicians, philosophy, art criticism. In some letters, Souza offers advice to K.B. Goel's son Brij ('Banu') encouraging him to become an artist.
K.B. Goel, sometime art critic for the Indian Express and The Patriot, contributor to The Economic Times and the Times of India, former art editor of Design, was part of a remarkable group of intellectuals and artists in Post-Independence India. His friends have included the novelist Dom Moraes; Ebrahim Alkazi, the great collector, patron of the arts and founding director of the National School of Drama in Delhi; Mulk Raj Anand, one of India's greatest novelists and founder of Marg, India's most distinguished periodical on the arts - and amongst his artist friends - M.F. Husain, Syed Haider Raza, Vasudeo Gaitonde and Krishen Khanna.
At the 1986 Festival of India in Paris, M.F. Husain remarked to a distinguished gathering of fellow artists, diplomats and writers - "K.B. Goel is an original think tank...we just paint."
By Simon Brandenburger - a friend of the Goel family.