The expressionist paintings of Slocan artist Peter Velisek evoke his Eastern European roots and a rural Kootenay life. Five canvases are now on display at the Nelson Public Library.
Velisek began his life in southern Bohemia in what was then called Czechoslovakia, where the landscape with its small villages, fields and forests, had a deep influence. He began drawing and painting in a serious way while studying mechanical engineering, and began lessons with a sculptor, developing an aptitude for three-dimensional work.
After emigrating to Canada, Velisek enrolled at the Kootenay School of Art in 1972. Upon graduating he continued with modelling and small sculpture here and in Kitimat before travelling to Halifax to continue his studies.
“Arriving in the city in the late afternoon, overwhelmed, I changed my mind, got in my car and drove home to the west,” he says.
The rural life was a better fit for the artist; he settled in the Slocan Valley and turned his attention to drawing and painting, studying with David Alexander and John Cooper and developing an distinctive expressionist style. His reputation began to build, resulting in shows in the Kootenay Boundary and in the Czech Republic, where, in addition to several shows, his work was featured in the Prachenske Museum.
“My inspirations are derived from rural life and from the luxury of travelling,” he says. “Lately Scotland, and the Orkney and Shetland Islands have captured my imagination.”
Velisek lives with his wife and two daughters on their small farm in in the Little Slocan. The exhibition runs through May and June.