Big Lonely, the title of one of William Kurelek’s painting series, is a colloquial term that expresses the vast space of the Canadian west. Born and raised on the Prairies, the artist had a profound connection to-and complex relationship with-nature, often writing of its capacity to both cripple and inspire.
Many of his most arresting images are landscapes that explore his particular perception of place and its intersection with memory. Kurelek’s ability to render vistas and natural phenomena was unique to his vision, in large part because of his deep connection to the landscapes of his youth. Be it menacing or magnificent, Kurelek’s depiction of nature was always expansive. Indeed, even the smallest picture often provides a view to infinity.
The landscapes also allow us to consider the role photography played in Kurelek’s practice, how it informed the structure of his pictures and his pictorial vision. Kurelek’s camera was his constant and necessary companion and a primary means through which he came to reconcile memory, place, and experience.