To My Father's Village

To My Father's Village : The Last Days and Drawings of William Kurelek.

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Two months before his death from cancer in 1977, William Kurelek returned to his father’s village in the Ukraine. The Soviet authorities had allowed him to spend four hours there in 1970, and the desire to return had become an obsession with him. In his diary of that trip he wrote, “Let the authorities let me come back to spend six weeks painting the real (to me) Ukrainian people…Those peasants that we met in the collective farm’s fields, the vast rolling fields, speak to me as an artist…let me live with these people as an artist…let me live with these people, dress as they dress, eat their food, sleep on the peech.”

During his four weeks spent in the little village of Borivtsi, Bukovina, he had managed with incredible energy to complete 100 drawings and six paintings. They are an extraordinary legacy, a record of a search to understand the world out of which his father came and thereby himself, to solve the dilemma of the immigrant’s son, to know whether he belonged more to the Old World or the New.

An extraordinary feature of the drawings is how lovingly they record the simple handmade objects of farm life: the dishes, untensils, tools, and farm implements. The drawings and paintings reproduced here are supplemented with letters written to his wife Jean during the 1970 trip and his personal photographs.
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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Hardback | 56 pages
  • 231.14 x 299.72 x 12.7mm | 612.35g
  • Ontario, Canada
  • English
  • ill
  • 0887762204
  • 9780887762208

Review quote

“The core of Kurelek’s psyche lay in a complex relation to his father…(his) drive to understand that man and his cultural heritage lay behind the…desire to see and visually record this village. It is poignant…that these should be the last works from Kurelek’s hand.”
–Ottawa Citizen
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