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The man who painted impulsively

Updated on: 11 February,2024 07:48 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Christalle Fernandes |

A new exhibition of Lancelot Ribeiro’s paintings showcases the impulsive nature of the artist and how his work was inspired by his half-brother, FN Souza

The man who painted impulsively

Expressionist artist Lancelot Ribeiro’s early works were influenced by his brother FN Souza’s style of painting, but later in his career, the themes and forms of their art diverged as Ribeiro developed his own style of painting

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The man who painted impulsively

At first glance, Lancelot Ribeiro’s paintings arrest the eye with vivid brushstrokes, bold imagery, and prominent themes. On view at Akara Art till early March, these 14 paintings are chosen from the artist’s six-decade long career, much of which was influenced by his half-brother, Francis Newton Souza.

The expressionist painter started his career in the 1960s with a solo exhibition in the Bombay Art Society salon. Hailing from a Catholic Goan family and growing up in the Bombay of the 1930s, which was at that time an emerging hub of global arts, music, and cultural influences, the artist’s work showcases still life, heads, and townscapes painted through a colourful, fantastical lens, which largely continued to be the themes of his oeuvre.

“His art frequently explored faith and homeland. It could also be lyrical, poetic, and playful particularly in his abstract pieces,” says daughter Marsha Ribeiro. “Everything was a canvas to him. Even the walls of our house bore his artistic touch.”

Marsha RebeiroMarsha Rebeiro

He later moved to London to stay with his half-brother, Francis Newton Souza, who by that time was already established as a prominent artist. “Ribeiro helped his brother as his studio assistant in the mid-sixties and so naturally similarities arose, particularly in the landscapes,” she says. “There are similarities in the early drawings, such as 1962’s head exhibited at Akara. Their styles also converge in some of the early landscapes and icon-like heads, with both artists referencing their Roman Catholic Goan roots.”

Later on, Ribeiro’s personal expression started becoming more evident in his works. “When you look at his paintings closely, they are quite distinct from Souza’s,” says Puneet Shah, the founder of Akara Art and the curator of the exhibition. “There are thematic similarities, but the rendering is completely different; the visuals are softer, and not so explicit or provocative.”

The paintings on view at Akara Art showcase the early Goan influences, townscapes, and heads that the artist was known for in his six-decade-long career
The paintings on view at Akara Art showcase the early Goan influences, townscapes, and heads that the artist was known for in his six-decade-long career

From 1963 onwards, his style, Marsha says, started becoming representative of his individual expression. The theme of the exhibition, “Impulsive, Compulsive: The Art of Lancelot Ribeiro”, she says, harks back to his obsession to go on painting. “The context of that quote comes from an undated diary entry ‘painting impulsively, compulsively, endlessly, tired, tirelessly with or without joy’,” Marsha says.

WHAT: Impulsive, Compulsive: The Art of Lancelot Ribeiro
WHEN: Till March 02, 11 AM to 6.30 PM (Closed on Mondays and Sundays)
WHERE: Akara Art, Colaba

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