He ended up
in England in his mid twenties where he suffered extreme depression and was
diagnosed as " schizophrenic" He attempted suicide and went through shock
treatment and rehabilitation. He ended up making picture frames for a period.
His rehabilitation took place in a Catholic context even though he was not
religious. He became an ardent Catholic and started to paint again.
returned to Canada he went to Canada’s top private art gallery Isaccs looking
for a framing job which he got. Some of his sample frames included some of his
painting and the gallery owner was interested in them and he soon had a show of
his realistic work. He had shows every couple of years threafter with alternate
ones with a religious theme.
paintings were very folksy and realistic in an era where abstract expressionism
was burgeoning. Some people came just to his shows and others to the modern
and had 4 children and continued with his framing work. He began to write and
lecture and painted rapidly often working all night. He became interested in a
Catholic retreat in Cobermere and attended regularly eventually buying property
in Kurlek increased when my wife graduated from art school in 1968 and Isaacs
asked to see her large abstract paintings. In an era where few women showed he
asked her to have solo exhibition of 15 of her large works. He had Kurelek
stretch and frame her work and she got to know him. One of his exhibitions was
held immediately prior to her show. Both shows sold out.
summer a major retrospective of Kurelek’s work was held in Winnipeg, Hamilton,
and Victoria. During the show a film on Kurelek made for an American psychology
professor came to the surface. It was based on an apocalyptic painting Kurelek
painted in England while in therapy. The filmmakers added new material to the
film and began to show it to much interest. It was shown in Toronto in November
at the Bell Light Box where the Toronto International Film Festival is held. My
wife and I attended the sold out performance and panel discussion. We met one
of Kurelek’s framing partners. The experience renewed our interest in him.
died of cancer at age 50 in 1977. Isaccs who remained close to him oversees his
estate. Isaccs after retiring after 50 years as a gallery owner had a major
exhibition in several venues in 2005. A book with an overview of his career was
published. We saw the shows and have a copy of the book which he signed and
wrote “Fond Memories” and remembered my wifes sold out show. There were
numerous Kurelek photos in the book. There is an excellent collection of
Kurelek books in the North Bay Library including his autobiography and a
biography. To my surprise the W.O. Mitchel classic Who Has Seen the Wind with 8
of Kurelek’s paintings and 32 drawings was in the library dated June 2012.
Apparently it was recently acquired and is a gem. There is much on line on
Kurelek for those interested in his remarkable story packed into a brief life.
Kurelek’s paintings “Nativity” is shown here. I note that the Chisholm United
Church will have an event like the painting at 230 on Saunday December 16 with
carols, refreshments and a crèche in the barn at the Dockendorf farm at 1162
Pioneer Road in Chisholm Township. Everyone welcome.