In April 1952 Caziel met the young Scottish painter Catherine Sinclair during her show at the Galerie Jeanne Castel, Paris. It was love at first sight. Officially still married to fellow Polish painter Lutka Pink, Caziel initially tried to suppress the feelings of intimacy, passion and commitment he and Catherine had mutually experienced when first setting eyes on one another.
However, Lutka's departure for America a month later, and her silent consent to Catherine moving into Caziel's avenue de Saxe studio announced the beginning of a life-long love story. The new couple's presence at 59 avenue de Saxe, where much of Poland's artistic elite gathered, proved exciting but hot in summer, cold and draughty in winter and lacking any general comfort, the couple decided during a romantic camping holiday in the South of France, that a home in the country would be better suited.
In Ponthévrard, located on the South-West outskirts of Paris, the lovebirds found their rural paradise, providing the backdrop to their secret love-affair. The headstrong artistic daughter of Sir Archibald Sinclair, Secretary of State for Air during the Second World War, with her impeccable education and social graces was not destined to fall in love with a penniless artist. Neither did Catherine wish to cause a society scandal by introducing her lover to her parents, whilst Lutka had not agreed to a divorce. Thus Katy, as Caziel affectionately called her, embarked on a double life for four long agonising years. She spent winters in Scotland and England as the dutiful daughter consigning her love to countless letters addressed to her adored Caziel back in Paris. During summer the couple would reunite with the help ofCatherine's former governess, who provided an alibi and a postal address in Paris.
At the time of their meeting, Caziel had already undergone his radical departure from the influence of his friend Picasso and proven his commitment to Abstraction. Catherine's love revitalized Caziel's creativity. As if hit by lightning, Caziel's commitment to Abstraction was momentarily halted by his need for a more immediate figurative style to express his passion for Catherine, witnessed in a series of large black ink and wash drawings. Figures in wild embrace, reminiscent of countless erotic scenes in Greek mythology, personify Caziel's desire for his earthly love. Yet also archetypal projections of ecstasy, pain, solitude and respect are transfigured here. These drawings appeal to our collective consciousness of what it is to be passionately in love. Caziel found it very difficult to paint when Catherine was not by his side. Catherine was his muse and goddess. 'I shouldn't be in love so much. It's not good for me. Come as soon as possible. It's impossible to live without you', he wrote in a letter during the autumn of 1952. Many of his letters dating that period were signed off: 'I kiss you on the mouth, your feet, your heart and your eyes'. An avid reader of the Greek Classics, Caziel chose the comparison of the myth of Ulysses and his patient wife Penelope to express his own love story, albeit reversing the roles. 'I am Penelope, I sew and unpick my canvases, wait for my Ulysses-Katy.' The association with the Greek wandering hero would remain with Caziel all his life.
During 1953, Caziel reconnected with Abstraction. In 1955 Catherine's announcement of her love for Caziel was received by her parents, to her own surprise, with delight. Following his official divorce from Lutka in November 1956, Catherine and Caziel were married in Paris during June 1957, with Jaime Sabartés as a witness. A year later their happy union brought forth a daughter, Clementina. Twelve years of marital bliss were lived at Ponthévrard before the family moved to Somerset, England, where Caziel and Catherine remained until their respective deaths in 1988 and 2007.
An Jo Fermon