Lot 102
  • 102

Francis Newton Souza

20,000 - 30,000 GBP
25,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Francis Newton Souza
  • Growing Unrest
  • Signed and dated 'Souza 91' (lower left) and titled 'GROWING UNREST' (lower right)
  • Acrylic on canvas 


Estate of Francis Newton Souza

Thence by descent 

Catalogue Note

In 1991, the year this work was painted, Francis Newton Souza was living in New York and it is possible that the inspiration for the subject was the Crown Heights racial riots in Brooklyn. Two years earlier the world had born witness to the Massacre at Tiananmen Square, where the Chinese government responded to a democratic student protest by sending in armed troops, resulting in the deaths of several hundred civilians.

Compositionally and stylistically the painting recalls a generic media image of civil unrest, the painting is not only a record of a period in history but is a comment on media distribution in an age of technological advancement. One could even say it is a contemporary corollary to his Negro in Mourning, painted in 1957, following the Notting Hill Riots. Of that painting he said: 'I painted 'Negro in Mourning' in London when the race riots flared. I personally think it is one of my best works - socialist realism maybe, Expressionism certainly. Moreover, Negro in Mourning is close to the bone of man because it is about the colour of skin.' (From Souza family archives)

Souza was always attentive to the underlying factors causing political unrest and continued to speak out against social inequality harbouring back to his earlier Communist leanings through his works. In Growing Unrest, the fact that he put the title on the front of the work rather than on the reverse suggests that he wanted to viewer to see it immediately as a political painting. The palette of this work also bears similarities to the chemical alterations on magazine paper that Souza was producing during this period.