Artwork by William Kurelek,  Candy Floss Clouds

William Kurelek
Candy Floss Clouds

oil on board
signed with monogram and dated 1977 lower right; titled on the reverse
20 x 20 ins ( 50.8 x 50.8 cms )

Sold for $34,500.00
Sale date: November 22nd 2016

Private Collection, British Columbia
Andrew Kear writes “Candy Floss Clouds was painted in the last year of Kurelek’s life, a time when he was preoccupied with his last monumental landscape series, ‘Big Lonely’ and the drawings and paintings he made on his final trip to Ukraine. ‘Candy Floss Clouds’ doesn’t appear to be an off-shoot of either of these final projects, nor does it appear anywhere in Isaacs’ records. Theories are that it was done either as a gift for a friend (although the lack of any commemoration on the back of the piece likely discounts this theory) or for an unrealized publication (as the square dimensions might suggest). It perhaps represents one of Kurelek’s veiled criticisms of secular liberal society, a theme we get in works like ‘Harvest of our Mere Humanism Years’ (1974, Corporate Collection, Toronto) and ‘The Dream of Mayor Crombie in the Glen Stewart Ravine’ (1974, City of Toronto).

Andrew Kear is the Curator of Historical Canadian Art at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. He was previously Assistant Curator and Registrar with the Tom Thomson Art Gallery and co-curated the 2011/2012 major retrospective of William Kurelek’s work.

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William Kurelek
(1927 - 1977) RCA

Kurelek was the son of Ukrainian immigrant farmers. He grew up during the Great Depression on a grain farm in Alberta and then a dairy farm in Manitoba. His hard-working father thought that his son was lazy and was not pleased when he decided to pursue his studies in art. His father's rejection was to haunt him all of his life. Kurelek briefly studied art at school but preferred to teach himself through books. While traveling in England he was hospitalized for over a year and enrolled in the hospital's art therapy program. It was there that he drew many self-portraits and scenes of farm life from his youth. He also developed his unique style of outlining the drawing with a ballpoint pen, using coloured pencils for texture and adding details in pen. Careful examination of his drawings reveals images full of realism with minute details of things like cots, clothes and even insects. Under the pen of William Kurelek, prairie farm scenes and landscapes came to life. By the time of his death in 1977 Kurelek had produced over 2000 paintings. Many of Kurelek's painting were produced to accompany books for children. For these he won several awards including the New York Times' Best Illustrated Children's Book Award for A Prairie Boy's Winter and Lumberjack, and the Canadian Association of Children's Librarians Illustrators Award for A Prairie Boy's Summer.