Solomon Souza Kohn

by Ekatmata Sharma
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In an exclusive interview, the 23-year-old International street artist Solomon Souza Kohn shares his passion for street art and his constant source of inspiration from his legendary grandfather FN Souza.
In the night the closed shutters of Shuk in Jerusalem convert into artistic spaces as young visionary street artist Solomon Souza Kohn paints these unnoticed shutters in graffiti-style murals with spray paints.  Solomon is legendary Indian artist Francis Newton Souza popularly known as FN Souza’s grandson. The Londoner young Souza being a Jew wanted to know how it was to live in Jerusalem.  Since 2010, he has been residing in Isreal.  Oblivious to his distinguished art lineage, the city has embraced his art, and the grandson of FN Souza prefers that it remains that way. He is currently focusing on one big canvas, the street-art project, ‘The Shuk Machaneh Yehuda Project Jerusalem’ painting the shutters in the center of Jerusalem.  His grandfather FN Souza was the founder member of Progressive Artists’ Group of Bombay, and was the first post-independence Indian artist to achieve high recognition in the West. FN Souza’s style exhibited both low-life and high energy. Solomon’s works reflect the rebellious nature and free art of his grandfather.
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When was the first time you picked up the paint brush?
I honestly don’t remember the first time I picked up a paint brush. But I am sure my mother and artist Karen Souza Kohn put it in my hand.
What medium of art interest you the most?
I am interested in all mediums, oil painting to spray, I am also intrigued by sculpture, and will one day soon start making some of my own.
Share your thoughts on your latest spray paint project in Jerusalem
Our project in the Shuk really opened my eyes to the city and connected me deeply to my roots and people, spending so much time in such a public place, interacting with all sorts of characters. It is something that I am sure will continue to affect me throughout my life. The people have taken to this project with much curiosity, joy and excitement, discovering that the artwork adds life to the market place after closing hours when the whole marketplace is turned into a night time gallery upon the closed shutters.  I paint the shutters with the portraits of inspiring people connected with the history of Israel and peace movements across the world. Over 150 shutters have been painted during the last 17 months. The shutters have famous personalities as well as unsung heroes. The shutters have portraits of people like Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian non-violent freedom fighter, Si Ali Sakkat, former mayor of Tunis who helped save Jews during the Holocaust, Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal correspondent executed in Pakistan by the Al-Qaeda in 2002, Jonathan Pollard, jailed Israeli spy who was released after 30 years in a US prison in November 2015 and other renowned personalities who scarified their lives.
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You are expressing art at open public places.  From where do you derive your inspiration?
(laughs) My grandfather was expelled in his college for drawing graffiti in a toilet. May be it comes from there. He was expelled for drawing profanity.
How does it feel to hail from such a strong art lineage?
My grandfather has definitely been the biggest artistic influence on me, as growing up I was privileged to constantly be surrounded by his work which must had a deep impact on my younger self. He died before I was 9 year old. I have grown up listening to inspiring stories of my grandfather from my mother.
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What did you liked most in FN Souza’s art?
His art is fearless. He was not afraid of anyone or any topic.
e expressing art at open public places.  From where do you derive your inspiration?
(laughs) My grandfather was expelled in his college for drawing graffiti in a toilet. May be it comes from there. He was expelled for drawing profanity.
How does it feel to hail from such a strong art lineage?
My grandfather has definitely been the biggest artistic influence on me, as growing up I was privileged to constantly be surrounded by his work which must had a deep impact on my younger self. He died before I was 9 year old. I have grown up listening to inspiring stories of my grandfather from my mother.
What did you liked most in FN Souza’s art?
His art is fearless. He was not afraid of anyone or any topic.

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