Artwork by William Kurelek,  Letter to an Old Friend
Thumbnail of Artwork by William Kurelek,  Letter to an Old Friend Thumbnail of Artwork by William Kurelek,  Letter to an Old Friend Thumbnail of Artwork by William Kurelek,  Letter to an Old Friend

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Cowley Abbott
326 Dundas St West
Toronto ON M5T 1G5
Ph. 1(416)479-9703

William Kurelek
Letter to an Old Friend


watercolour, heightened with white, laid down on board
12 x 10 ins ( 30.5 x 25.4 cms )

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Provenance:
Private Collection, Toronto
Private Collection, Ontario
Literature:
William Kurelek, Someone With Me, Cornell University, Ithaca, 1973, page 435
During the 1950s while Kurelek was living in London, his trompe l’oeil artworks sustained his livelihood as he developed as an artist. Sold through galleries for under five pounds per piece, the works sustained the artist during this tumultuous time and proved to be an invaluable skill of Kurelek’s; the Pollack family hired Kurelek as a frame maker and restorer based on his precision and discipline in these works. At the time the painting was done, Kurelek was working with an Irish immigrant, Stan Ross, in the Isaacs Gallery Picture Framing workshop. The work is an illustration of a humorous story that Stan related to Kurelek while working together.

The letter reads:

Mucky, Ireland

Dear Old Friend,

I’ve forgotten your Address, so if you don’t receive this. Let me know.
I’ll see you at the old place on Sunday. If you’re there first put a chalk mark on the wall. If I’m there first I’ll rub it out. It’s so long since I’ve seen you, I’ve forgotten what you’re like, but your face is ever before me. Every time I feed the pigs I think of you and the last bite we had together.

Please excuse the spelling, this is a devil of a pen.

Yours to the bone.
Patrick
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Cowley Abbott
326 Dundas St West
Toronto ON M5T 1G5
Ph. 1(416)479-9703


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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.