Al Souza grew up, in the 50's, on the East coast of America. He trained, initially, as a Civil Engineer and then transferred to New York where he studied Fine Art for four years. Always combining studio work with teaching he has had many exhibitions both in the States and Europe
Souza, in his work over the last 25 years, has both respected and challenged earlier concepts and art movements. Although, like many contemporary artists, his ultimate aim is to develop and create his own visual language, Al Souza is the first to admit the crucial influence of the Arte Povera movement (which emerged in Italy in the Sixties). In the context of his work one can remember Arte Povera as a series of fragments: fragments of plaster casts, fragments of meaning and fragments of words combined with fragments of material. Often work from this movement included found materials presented or looked at in another way and thereby given new context and meaning. A similar process is central in Al Souza's works. As the artist himself says "For the past few years I have mainly been working with found materials. Some have been natural like fungi or barnacles. Some have been man-made like newspapers or jigsaw puzzles; but in each case they were made (into a finished work) in the place where they were found". For example, in Austria in 1995, he worked mainly (during a two month residency) with the newspapers that he read each day. By cutting holes in chosen sheets, lying them in several layers on top of each other, the viewer (of the final work) was never given the whole picture; just fragments of stories remained. Other work with cut paper has been the series working with Soil Maps (which were found originally in a rubbish skip). Same process, similar effect but here Souza is tackling, and re-presenting for us to see the fundamental structure of the earth we live on. More random (visually) are the works in his puzzle series. Here the title of each work describes the original jigsaw image but this is, of course, now indiscernable - never to be reassembled again.
As Al Souza states "The most interesting factor to me, as an artist, is that I don't know what's there. I have always intentionally changed my living situation so that, in turn, my work becomes a reflection of that physical change and its subsequent psychological consequences. My work has been a visual extension of my life at any given time"