Artwork by William Kurelek,  Threshing Outfit Being Brought Lunch
Thumbnail of Artwork by William Kurelek,  Threshing Outfit Being Brought Lunch Thumbnail of Artwork by William Kurelek,  Threshing Outfit Being Brought Lunch Thumbnail of Artwork by William Kurelek,  Threshing Outfit Being Brought Lunch

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Consignor Canadian Fine Art
326 Dundas St West
Toronto ON M5T 1G5
Ph. 1(416)479-9703

Lot #22

William Kurelek
Threshing Outfit Being Brought Lunch

mixed media on board
signed with monogram and dated 1972 lower right; titled on the reverse
5 x 15.5 ins ( 12.7 x 39.4 cms )

Estimated: $50,000.00 - $70,000.00

Provenance:
Purchased directly from the artist in 1972
By descent to the present Private Collection, Toronto
Literature:
William Kurelek, A Prairie’s Boy’s Summer, Toronto, 1975, unpaginated
Avrom Isaacs and Ramsay Cook, Kurelek Country: The Art of William Kurelek, Toronto, 1999, page 6
William Kurelek recalled that work on his family’s farm could not only be strenuous but also lonely, his parents, siblings and fellow workers often spread across vast distances as they completed their individual duties through long hours. The days were especially exhausting during the summer months as the prairie sun hung high for the longest period of the year and the Kurelek children did not have school as an escape. The demands of the season’s targets meant that there was no time for breaks, William noting that the “only excuse for stopping was when Nancy brought out some water or lunch.” Given Kurelek’s recollection of the work and isolation related to daily farm responsibilities and the relief of his sister’s arrival with sustenance, it is not surprising that the painter would depict such a welcome occasion within “Threshing Outfit Being Brought Lunch”. Kurelek treats the viewer not only to the anticipated relief within a backbreaking day, but also to the detailed spectacle of the work itself, Kurelek noting that “A threshing scene is exciting even at a distance.”

The monumental arrival of the mother and young children is a welcome one within this expansive panoramic gem. The woman’s bright orange skirt and tunic may have caught the eye of the laborers initially, each worker facing the small convoy, but their probable focus is the large box, heavy cooler and bags of nourishment to be delivered. The richly colourful composition captures the tasks still in progress: a horse-drawn hay wagon arrives into the left side of the scene, while the thresher continues launching grain as a child feeds it hay, supervised by the boy’s father in a waiting wagon to the side. Common within Kurelek’s intensely-detailed prairie farming scenes, the long, clouded horizon introduces further minute details, as two additional teams toil through the initial chores of the haying process among the stooked field within the right side of the landscape. The representation of the array of complimentary tasks are evidence of a very busy July day, making the arrival of a hearty lunch that much more welcome.

From the age of twelve, Kurelek and his brother John were recruited by their father to perform crucial and challenging chores on the farm. An early start for the demanding routine for the children, the assignments were essential as the Kureleks had lost many of their hired hands to the war effort. Although his initial years of work on the family farm were met with regular frustration and criticism from his father, William’s confidence and skill grew over time and he became a steady member of the team. As he toiled on the heavy machinery, he dreamed of the day he would begin grade ten, as his father had promised Kurelek that he and John could then attend high school in the city. William envisioned life at school in Winnipeg, surrounded by fellow students who would be mesmerized by his tales. To his dismay, William found that his peers had other interests and were not intrigued by his stories of rural Manitoba. It would be years later that Kurelek would discover an engaged audience to share his recollections of his formative experiences on the Canadian prairies. The enthusiasm from Toronto art dealer Av Issacs upon seeing Kurelek’s paintings during their first meeting came with the immediate offer of an exhibition in the gallery. The sensational reaction from Isaacs and the attendees to Kurelek’s first exhibition in 1960 “so affected him that it seemed to trigger an effect similar to the opening up of the floodgates in a dam. Paintings began to pour out of him.” The storyteller had found his audience.

Shortly after moving to Toronto from Winnipeg to attend college in 1972, the original owner of this artwork attended the opening of an exhibition of William Kurelek’s work at Isaacs Gallery. Having an opportunity to speak with Kurelek, the student told the artist of her admiration of his work and her hope to one day be able to afford one of his paintings. As the evening reception began to wind down, Kurelek pulled her aside and provided his phone number with instructions to give him a call in the days which followed. The student called the painter and Kurelek let her know that he was currently facing a family medical emergency, causing a financial strain. The painter offered to create an artwork at a cost reduced from his gallery pricing. The opportunity was happily accepted and Kurelek inquired as to the type of composition she would like him to paint. Born and raised on the prairies and sharing Ukrainian heritage with the artist, she asked Kurelek to create a scene that would remind her of her origins and her grandparents’ farm. Two weeks later, William Kurelek called with an invitation to meet and present the painting. “Threshing Outfit Being Brought Lunch” has remained in the family until this offering.
Sale Date: November 20th 2018

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Preview this item at:

Consignor Canadian Fine Art
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.