Early Morning Chores, 1966
mixed media on board, 16¼" × 19"
The One That Got Away, 1975
oil on board, 7¾" × 14¼"
The Barn Dance
lithograph, 12" × 7.5"
William Kurelek (1927-1977) Artist Biography
William Kurelek (1927-1977) was one of the seminal artists of imaginative painting in Canada. In a country dominated by the landscape tradition and observed realism, Kurelek introduced fantasy into narrative painting. He was visionary in depicting our daily lives, incorporating everyday imagery with biblical and folk elements.
Born in Whitford, Alberta, his childhood was spent in rural Manitoba during the Depression. After completing a Bachelor of Arts, he received his early art training at the Ontario College of Art and the Instituto Allende in Mexico. He then spent several years in England where he painted and learned the craft of framing. During this period, he converted to Catholicism which he credited with his new found joy in everyday living and with the spirituality which often suffused his subsequent life and works.
In 1959, Kurelek began working as a framer for the Isaacs Gallery in Toronto. There he had his first one-man show in 1960 entitled “Memories of Farm and Bush Life”. He went on to write and illustrate a number of books on various related themes including Inuit life, the immigrant experience and life on the Prairies. He is best known for his children’s books “A Prairie Boy’s Summer” and “A Prairie Boy’s Winter”.
Kurelek died at age 50 in 1977 leaving a great legacy of inspired works. Prominent collections that feature his works include The National Gallery of Canada, The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Art Gallery of Ontario.