Artwork by William Kurelek,  Yelling at Young Mosquitos in Rain Barrel

William Kurelek
Yelling at Young Mosquitos in Rain Barrel

mixed media on board
signed with monogram and dated 1967 lower right; titled on the reverse of the framing
16.5 x 20.75 ins ( 41.9 x 52.7 cms )

Sold for $23,600.00
Sale date: November 20th 2018

Provenance:
Galerie Agnès Lefort, Montreal
Private Collection, Toronto
“Most people are mystified by this picture,” wrote William Kurelek about his 1967 homage to his childhood in Manitoba. “In fact,” he continued, “nobody has yet guessed what the boy is doing. I guess because it’s a personal boyhood game I amused myself with. Mosquitoes, as you know, breed in stagnant water, and the larvae have breathing tubes to the surface of the water. I didn’t like mosquitoes because they plagued man and farm animals in Manitoba, so I would frighten them to the bottom of the barrel beside the farmhouse with the vibration of my voice. And as soon as they’d surface for more air I’d send them down again with another yell.” Describing the technique he used to depict the humid late summer weather for which Manitoba is well known, Kurelek wrote, “I have pictured heavy clouds such as we had the next day after the rain by alternate use of luminous colour and dark green oil paint to recreate the play of light and cloud shadow on the field and farmyard.”

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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.