William Kurelek R.C.A.

Newfie Joke (A Boy Peeping Out From Behind a Snowball), 1974

mixed media on board
6x8.75 in.

signed and dated lower right

Private collection;
Masters Gallery Ltd., Vancouver;
Private collection

William Kurelek’s paintings of children at play are drawn on his own childhood memories, and his observations of the customs and traditions of other regions of Canada. Born in Alberta, raised in Manitoba, and later living Ontario, snow was a prominent feature in his life.

This close-in scene of a boy who has rolled a snowball too large to lift is a universal theme from the childhood of anyone who has, on a day after a heavy snowfall, rolled sticky, wet snow into a ball. The urge to keep going, until the ball has become too large to move, is a test many children put themselves to, turning, is most cases, from snowball making to snowman building as a solution.

In the distance in this work, Kurelek shows us groups of children pushing impossibly large balls of snow, perhaps images that come from the imaginings of the boy who peeps over the snowball nearest to us. His eyes are filled with impish concentration.

William Kurelek (Wasyl), painter and writer, evangelist (b near Whitford, Alta 3 Mar 1927; d at Toronto 3 Nov 1977). Influenced by Bosch and Brueghel and by prairie roots, his UKRAINIAN heritage and Roman Catholicism, Kurelek’s realistic and symbolic paintings record his historic culture and religious vision. The oldest of…