Emanuel Proweller


Born in 1918 in Lwow (Poland)
Died in 1981 in Créteil (France)

Emanuel Proweller was born in 1918 in Lwow (at that time Lemberg), on the border between Poland and Ukraine, to a Jewish family.

In 1939, at the age of 21, he exhibited the very first painting signed Proweller – a name that the war and anti-Semitism quickly erased. He continued to paint, but under the alias of Anatol Wroblewski.
Then, after an obligatory passage in the Red Army as a painter and musician, he signed a few paintings under the name of Abraham Alispector. As a survivor of the Holocaust, it is under this identity that he moved to Paris in 1948 to recover his self, his “I” and become a subject again: I, Proweller, painter.
He painted four yellow ellipses, floating on a blue background on either side of a symmetry axis: his first self-portrait.

What does Proweller seek? Gabrielle Buffet-Picabia wonders in an article published at the time of the artistʼs second solo exhibition at Colette Allendyʼs gallery in 1953. Perhaps the figure in abstraction?
No, it is in color that there is hope […] Color, left to lie fallow, can truly be alive, explains the painter. Painting is the start of a fight for life. Far beyond the geometry and abstraction of the 50s, color brings appeasement, contemplation, and a certain joy, in which life is still worth being lived.

Proweller gradually enters the heart of the matter, the figure rises slowly to the surface of his paintings filled with happiness: Buttocks on the Bench and Volubilis, The Field of the Lark, Reversed Nude, Dusk in the Valley, The First Cigarette*… These are the personal mythologies of the daily life of a survivor, of a painter who remained alive after the death of his relatives.

A Polish Jew is not a Pole. He carries two cultures with him. Itʼs being the opposite, itʼs like a jacket with a lining, reversible, explains Proweller, you reverse it whenever you want. In his paintings, abstraction hides the figure, while the figure reveals abstraction. This is present in The Dollʼs Eyes**, which in 1949 alreadly announced a new figuration.

*Translation of the original titles: Fesses sur le banc et volubilis, Le Champ de lʼalouette, Nu renversé, Crépuscule dans la vallée, La première cigarette
**Translation of the original title: Les Yeux de la poupée

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