Monday, November 29, 2010

William Kurelek, a Troubled Artist

The Canadian Encyclopedia online writes:
William Kurelek (Wasyl), painter and writer, evangelist (b near Whitford, Alta 3 Mar 1927; d at Toronto 3 Nov 1977). Influenced by Bosch and Brueghel and by prairie roots, his UKRAINIAN heritage and Roman Catholicism, Kurelek's realistic and symbolic paintings record his historic culture and religious vision. The oldest of 7 children, he was expected to help run the farm. His lack of mechanical aptitude attracted harsh criticism from his father, as did his wish to be an artist. He studied at Winnipeg, Toronto and San Miguel, Mexico. In England (1952-59), he sought psychiatric help and was hospitalized for severe emotional problems, depression and eye pain. He converted to Roman Catholicism (1957), credited God with his healing, and began to paint the Passion of Christ according to St Matthew. This series of 160 paintings is housed in the Niagara Falls Art Gallery and Museum

Returning to Toronto, he was established by the early 1960s as an important painter, alternating realistic works depicting his prairie roots with didactic series. In the 1970s he began to publish his paintings with simple texts. His books for children (A Prairie Boy's Winter, 1973; Lumberjack, 1974; A Prairie Boy's Summer, 1975; and A Northern Nativity, 1976) have become modern classics. His autobiography, Someone With Me (1973, rev ed 1980), ends with his marriage to Jean Andrews (1962). Kurelek was an outstanding artist with a unique idealistic and pragmatic vision. A modern Jeremiah, he painted a coming apocalypse - divine justice on a materialistic, secular society.

Vicki Palmquest, writes in the Children's Literature Network:When William decided to pursue art, his father argued that his son was being lazy—this was something William never forgot.

And on his technique:To create a painting, Mr. Kurelek would apply acrylic or oil paint on a board, outline his images in ballpoint pen, use colored pencils to create texture, and then scratch, scrub or brush the surface for detail. He finished by further outlining details in ballpoint pen.
Please click here to be taken to Kurelek's biography in the Children's Literature Network.

Please click here to be taken to the Kurelek article from the Canadian Encyclopedia.

And for the readers in our blog, you may wish to read:The Ukrainian Pioneer
William Kurelek, 1971-76, acrylic, graphite and pencil on masonite (courtesy NGC). Author Patricia Morley.

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