De Souza ‘on the right path’ after coma shock

• Ian De Souza says a chance encounter with two monks at his exhibition convinced him he was traveling in the right direction.

“To be a true artist you have to be open to change, pushing boundaries, it’s my passion and way of life,” Ian De Souza says, while sipping green tea in his home studio.

The 80-year-old Fremantle artist shows no signs of slowing down and has just completed two exhibitions – Clear Light in The Private Museum in Singapore, and a permanent display in the new Ritz Carlton Hotel Perth.

“The way I live is the way I think and it is the way I paint, the journey of my life and journey of my work,” De Souza says.

In Clear Light he delves into the abstract; bleeding ink through layers of rice paper with spontaneous brush strokes, bold lines and light spaces.


Peeling off the top layers of rice paper reveals unexpected images, reflecting the importance he places on fate and surprise.

De Souza says this philosophical Chinese approach influences many aspects of his life including gardening, design and cooking.

“Everything is about duality, composition and balance, the positive and negative spaces between – the yin and yang.”

His collection for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Perth’s Elizabeth Quay was put together by Linton and Kay Galleries.

Linton and Kay manager Miranda Brown said De Souza’s work reflected movement and light and resonated with the views of the Swan River on the hotel’s second floor.

“The artist created three different series of delicate ink on rice-paper. These were then photographed and reproduced on large stretched canvas panels,” Ms Brown says.

“Ian also painted a large 2×2 metre original artwork that welcomes guests into the meeting room areas. Titled Chaos to Calm…a Bird’s Eye View, the incredible energy in this artwork captures the spirit of place and light.”

De Souza experienced one of life’s surprises preparing for the exhibitions; following heart surgery he ended up in a coma for three days.

The artist says he used the downtime to reflect and focus on “internal spaces”, holding trust in the rhythm and flow of life. After a remarkably quick recovery he flew to Singapore to launch Clear Light, and says it all happened with perfect timing.

“On the last day of my Singapore exhibition two monks walked in the door and it gave me goose bumps. They stood and stared at my work for a long time. It reassured me I was on the right path.”


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