Born in 1969 in Kabwe, Zambia, Emmanuel graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in 1993. In 1997 The Ampersand Foundation made him the first recipient of the Ampersand Fellowship with a three-month residency in New York. In 2002 he was awarded first prize for AIR ON THE SKIN in the Sasol Wax in Art Competition, Sasolburg, South Africa.
Emmanuel employs various media to reveal layered visions concerned with his identity living in post-apartheid South Africa.
In 2004 Phase 1 of his series of counter-memorials THE LOST MEN, was launched on the Grahamstown National Arts Festival main visual arts programme. In 2007 Phase 2 of this project took place in Maputo, Mozambique.
In 2008 his touring solo museum exhibition TRANSITIONS premiered at The Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg featuring his critically acclaimed short, non-narrative film 3SAI: A RITE OF PASSAGE. The film won the 2009 jury prize at Edinburgh's 4th Africa-In-Motion International Film Festival, UK and the 2010 Best Experimental Film Award on the 5th Sardinia International Film Festival, Italy. TRANSITIONS debuted its 2010 international tour at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC, USA.
Emmanuel was selected as the 2011 Featured Artist with his solo exhibition TRANSITIONS MULTIPLES for the FNB Joburg Art Fair, South Africa and in 2012 he was granted the Institut Français Visas Pour la Creation research residency, Paris, France.
In July 2014 THE LOST MEN FRANCE was temporarily installed adjacent to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, Northern France as an intervention in the Somme Circuit of Remembrance and as an official event of the World War One Centenary.
In June 2015, the remains of this anti-monument were installed at Freedom Park Museum, Pretoria, South Africa in an exhibition titled REMNANTS which toured to Boston University's 808 Gallery, Massachusetts, USA in January 2016 and The Reservoir at Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa in May 2017.
MEN AND MONUMENTS opened at Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa in March 2020 with the launch of the monograph titled PAUL EMMANUEL (Wits Art Museum), edited by Professor Karen von Veh and with writings by Professor emerita Annette Becker (University of Paris-Nanterre, France), Professor Karen von Veh (University of Johannesburg, South Africa) and Associate Professor emerita Pamela Allara (Brandeis University, Massachusetts, USA).
Emmanuel lives and works in Johannesburg.
Recent independent writings
1) 'Ex Unitate Vires: Paul Emmanuel' in 'Art Beyond Quarantine', Pamela Allara, Mark Auslander, Ellen Schattschneider, July 2020.
2) 'Carbon dad 2017: Paul Emmanuel' in 'Art Beyond Quarantine', Pamela Allara, April 2020.
Professor Ellen Schattschneider is a sociocultural anthropologist and Associate Professor at Brandeis University, Massachusetts, USA, specialising in psychoanalytic, phenomenological and practice approaches to culture and society.
Dr. Mark Auslander is a Research Scholar, Department of Anthropology, Brandeis University, Massachusetts, USA.
Associate Professor emerita Pamela Allara, Brandeis University, Massachusetts USA, is an art historian, curator and critic. She is currently a Visiting Researcher in the African Studies Centre at Boston University.