William Kurelek at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Went to the opening of William Kurelek: The Messenger at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, last night.

Was struck by the incredible detail of Kurelek’s paintings, and also the window onto his life’s experiences, in particular growing up on the prairies.  Paintings of twisters and hail storms, the Northern Lights and dawn, Polish weddings and Ukrainian parties – painted from the artist’s memories.  An artist who worked as a framer, Kurelek made frames for his paintings, decorating the edges with ribbon or traditional Ukrainian designs.  In one frame, the bottom edge deeper than the sides or top, Kurelek has painted himself as a young man, lying in his bed reminiscing, while the painting contained within the frame depicts the memory.

kurelek - the maze (from a van hallen cover)
kurelek – the maze (from a van hallen cover) (Photo credit: pabojon)

There are also paintings from his time in a mental hospital in England in the 1950’s, when works take on the surrealism of Dali or the emotional angst of Munch.

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