Angelo da Fonseca

‘Angelo da Fonseca was born in Goa in 1902 and died in Pune in 1967. He was a Goan painter, and a pioneer of the Christian Cultural Renaissance in India.

Early life

Angelo da Fonseca was born in St Estevam, Goa in 1902. He studied under Rabindranath Tagore in Kolkata, Angelo was subsequently condemned and expelled from Goa by the Portuguese Colonial Government for his paintings; he had painted the Virgin Mary in a traditional Goan Sari. His paintings has been displayed in major cities, worldwide.

Art Studies

He started out in medical studies at the Grant Medical College, Bombay, but soon left for J. J. School of Art. In 1930 he left the prestigious Art School, as he felt it had too much of a European/English setting, and joined Shantiniketan in Kolkota where he was trained by his guru Rabindranath Tagore. Nandalal Bose was his teacher. Since he was a Christian, many of his paintings incorporate Christ and the Bible. He respected the Virgin Mary and painted her many times.

Paintings

Fonseca was a prolific and versatile painter; curved on wood, slate, worked on scrolls, stained glass, wax drawings, pencil sketches, baked clay. He has over 1000 water colours and oils; murals and paintings at places such as St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai; Missio Museum, Aachen, Germany, De Nobili College, Pune; Rachol Seminary, Goato name a few. He was reportedly strongly influenced by the writings of Fr. Heras, who encouraged Indian artists to paint Indian themes rather than Western.

Goa – Criticism of Fonseca’s Painting

He returned to Goa in 1931, which was ruled by the Portuguese Colonial Government led the Dictator António de Oliveira Salazar. Fonseca faced severe criticism for painting Christian themes with Indian settings. He was criticized by the Priest in his native village of St Estevam for painting the Virgin Mary in a traditional Goan Sari (Kunbi). He eventually left (hounded out) Goa.

Pune

Fonseca moved to Pune, practicing at the Khrist Prem Seva Ashram where he did productive work. In 1951 he married Ivy Muriel Menezes, their daughter Yessonda Dalton was born in 1957.

He died in 1967 of meningitis. Ivy Muriel died in September 2015 in Pune. There has been a renewed interest in Fonseca’s works, with Exhibitions both in India and abroad. (Source)

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