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Caziel: Drawings and Watercolours 1935 - 1952 - The Paris Years

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Whitford Fine Art, 2009. £8.00

Caziel adhered to the 'Ecole de Paris' years prior to settling in Paris in 1937. He attended the Warsaw Academy of FineArts, 1931-36, where the influence of French Post-Impressionist painting was omnipresent. Revered masters amongst the students and significant influences on Caziel's early development as a painter included Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse.
Many works of this period show a clear Cézannesque approach in technique and colouring, whereas his Fauve designs for the ballet are in the spirit of La Danse, painted by Matisse in 1910. The rhythmical succession of floating nudes expresses feelings of emotional liberations and hedonism, and evoke pagan rites as celebrated in Igor Stravinsky's ballet 'Rite of Spring' (1910-1913), as well as religious Apocalyptic beliefs as illustrated in the 11th century manuscript of Saint-Sever Beatus. In a few works, Caziel united the Post-Impressionist vocabulary with imagery and stylistic elements borrowed from Polish folklore.
Caziel's aspiration to emigrate to Paris finally came true in 1937 when he received a bursary. In 1939 Edouard Vuillard intervened with the Polish authorities to grant Caziel permission to stay in Paris. When in 1939 Germany declared war, Caziel voluntarily joined the Polish army in France. The 1940 Franco-German Armistice, however, forced the Polish army to disband and pushed Caziel to flee with his Jewish wife, the painter Lutka Pink. Blaise Cendrars welcomed them in Aix-en-Provence, where they stayed on and off until the autumn of 1946. It was here that Caziel had the opportunity to study the work of Cézanne in depth.
During his time in Aix, Caziel met Le Corbusier with whom he exchanged ideas about the integration of painting and architecture. Caziel's instinctive feeling for proportion had already earned him several prestigious commissions for frescoes back in Poland and, upon his return from Aix to Paris in 1946, he was commissioned the design of the Polish pavilion for the UNESCO International Exhibition of Modern Art. Despite appealing offers of important teaching posts from the Polish government, Caziel remained in Paris to protect Lutka from having to return to the country where all her relatives had been murdered in Auschwitz. Life in post-war Paris was hard but Caziel was stimulated by a search for a new form of pictorial space and worked profusely.
During his search for a different dimension, resulting in paintings where line and colour do not flatten the picture plane but projects it in front of it instead, Caziel's career gathered momentum. His first one-man show at the Galerie Allard in 1947 was followed by an invitation to join Picasso, Hans Hartung, Victor Vasarely, Alfred Manessier and others to exhibit at the prestigious 'Salon de mai'.
Throughout his five-year close friendship with Picasso, 1947-1951, Caziel's stylistic preoccupations were divided. Strong lyrical and expressive compositions much indebted to Picasso alternate with works revealing his quest for Abstraction.
In 1951, Caziel more or less gave up figuration and joined the 'Groupe Espace', whose program of uniting Constructivist art with architecture, promoted the creation of a new environment appropriate to the new society of the modern age.
By 1952, Lutka had left for the United States and Caziel met the young Scottish painter Catherine Sinclair, with whom he started a new life in Ponthévrard just outside of Paris.
During his years in Paris, Caziel was at the heart of the developments of the 'Ecole de Paris'. His move to Ponthévrard did not mean the end but the beginning of a new chapter in his life-long drive to follow his path of excellence.

An Jo Fermon, February 2010