William Kurelek Exhibition Coming to the WAG

If you ever enjoyed A Prairie Boy’s Winter as a child, or admired the covers of W.O. Mitchell’s book Who Has Seen the Wind, you’ll be familiar with the work of William Kurelek. William Kureluk: The Messenger is a stunning exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, running from September 30 to December 31. It is the first retrospective exhibition of Kurelek’s work and is the largest exhibition of ever mounted featuring his work. The official opening will be held at 7pm, Saturday, October 1, kicking off Nuit Blanche, the WAG’s all-night celebration of the arts.

Organized by the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, William Kurelek: The Messenger brings together over 80 of Kurelek’s works spanning three decades. Widely recognized as a painter of childhood reminiscences and prairie fields, Kurelek conjures a sense of a timeless and innocent past. His childhood in Stonewall, Manitoba as the son of Ukrainian immigrants gave him the understanding of being an “outsider” and he chronicled the experiences of various cultural groups in Canada, devoting entire series to Ukrainian, Jewish, Polish, Irish, French-Canadian, and Inuit peoples. But there is another Kurelek—the tortured man who spent two years in mental hospitals, the anguished prophet of a modern apocalypse whose art questions the values of a secular age. Kurelek was at his best and most challenging when he successfully bridged the pastoral and the prophetic, combining memory and message. It is out of this fundamental duality, around which this exhibition has been conceived, that the artist’s richness emerges.

Accompanying the exhibition will be an inter-active website, www.kurelek.ca. Visitors to the site can view all the images in the exhibition, zooming in on details, and leave comments about their impressions of the work. The site includes a digitized audio recording of an interview with Kurelek from 1975; footage of his infamous, and now disassembled, basement studio; a biographical timeline; and an educational site designed for teachers and students, grades 1 to 8.

Following its closure on December 31, William Kurelek: The Messenger will tour to the Art Gallery of Hamilton from January 29 to April 29, 2012, and to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria from May 25 to September 3, 2012.

William Kurelek: The Messenger is generously sponsored by the Department of Canadian Heritage; Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism; Mayberry Fine Art; Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko; Wasyl Topolnicky Memorial Foundation, Inc.; Pattison Outdoor Advertising; and Hot 103.

RELATED PROGRAMS

Exhibition Tours
Selected weekends at 2pm • Included with Gallery admission.
English October 9, 16, 23 • November 6, 13, 19, 20 • December 4, 10, 11
Ukrainian October 30 and December 4

Curators’ Talk
Sat, October 1, 3:30pm • Kurelek, his Medium and Messages: A Roundtable Discussion with Three Curators • This exhibition is an unprecedented partnership between the WAG, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Join co-curators Andrew Kear (WAG), Mary-Jo Hughes (AGGV), and Tobi Bruce (AGH).

Film
Thurs, October 13, 7pm / Sat, November 26, 2pm • $10 • Canadian premiere of William Kurelek’s The Maze • Robert Young’s iconic 1970 documentary film on Canadian artist William Kurelek has been digitally re-mastered and expanded with original footage that was thought lost and only recently found.

Art for Lunch
Wednesday, October 19, 12:10pm • Talk • William Kurelek's Christian Perspective • Join Michael Boss, Head of WAG Studio Programs by day and Ukrainian history buff by night, for a talk on Kurelek's Christian perspective within the broader context of his Ukrainian heritage and artistic production.
Wednesday, November 16, 12:10pm • Exhibition tour with Andrew Kear, Curator of Historical Canadian Art.

Art Eats
Thursday, October 20 and Thursday, December 15, 7pm • Dinner at Storm Bistro, followed by a tour of the exhibition.

Family Sunday
Sun, October 23, 1-4:30pm • Kurelek; the Ukrainian Pioneer • Join us as we celebrate Canada’s Ukrainian heritage and the much- loved art of William Kurelek. Details to come at wag.ca!

Into Creativity: Mental Health and the Arts Symposium
Thurs, November 24-Sat, November 26 • This symposium explores the relationship between individual creativity and artists’ mental health, shedding light on the links between social inclusion and the participatory arts, and provides a forum for subverting the myths, stereotypes, and stigma that continue to haunt discussions of mental illness today.

Curatorial Tour
Thursday, December 3, 7pm • with Andrew Kear, Curator, Historical Canadian Art

Art Workshop
Saturday, December 10 & Sunday, December 11 • Picturing Your Story • Study the exhibition with WAG Art Educator Michael Bosss, then develop drawings that tell your own story. Registration deadline November 21. Register online at wag.ca or by calling 789-1766.

 

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