Intimate masculinities in the work of Paul Emmanuel

Bronner, Irene Enslé (2011) Intimate masculinities in the work of Paul Emmanuel. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Paul Emmanuel is a South African artist who produces incised drawings, outdoor installations and prints (particularly intaglio etchings and manière noire lithographs). These focus on the representation of male bodies and experience. Having begun his career as a collaborative printmaker, since 2002, his work has become more ambitious as well as critically acclaimed. In 2010, his most recent body of work, Transitions, was exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art in Washington D.C. I propose that Emmanuel represents the male body as a presence that either is not easily seen or that actively disappears or erases itself. Its subjectivity, and the viewer’s engagement with it, may be characterised as one of intimacy, exposure, loss and vulnerability. Emmanuel’s work may be said to question conventions and ideals of masculinity while, at the same time, refusing any prescriptive interpretation. To develop this proposition, I examine specifically Emmanuel’s incising drawing technique that ‘holds open’ transitions in male lives. In these liminal moments, Emmanuel represents men as ‘seen’ to change state or status, thereby exposing the ongoing process of building masculine identities. Equally elucidatory is Emmanuel’s imprinting of his own body, which, in his use of “traces” that reveal the vacillation between presence and absence, makes contingently ‘visible’ this gendering process, and has particular implications for the expression of subjectivity in a contemporary South African context.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Emmanuel, Paul, 1969-, Masculinity in art, Identity in art, Gender identity in art, 21st century South African art
Subjects:N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Fine Art
ID Code:2108
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:13 Oct 2011 08:03
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:22
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