Thursday, October 29, 2009

PETER KOLISNYK, MINIMALIST & SUBVERSIVE

PETER KOLISNYK passed from this world last Thursday, October 22, 2009 at Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg, Ontario. (Obituary)

He is remembered by family and friends for living his life with gusto, for his extravagant creativity, for his artistic energy to assist others, especially for the youth of Cobourg. He was not reticent to invest his artistic cred by designing the cover of Phoenix, a newsmagazine put out by Cobourg youth in 1969. On another occasion he contributed a cover design to Refraction, Vol.3, an anthology of poetry by Cobourg young people. The Cobourg Sentinel Star, June 18, 1969, published this review of one his art shows.

I was a pimple-faced hippie when Peter inadvertently became a life/art mentor to me. I recall many meetings in his studio where he tore strips off my poetry and me. He recognized pretentiousness, affectation, didactic posturing and diluted creativity in an instant. He knew when I was sloppy, when I was lazy, when I was slacking, when I was mediocre, when I was being moderate, and called me on it every time. It was a strengthening experience.

Peter’s work delved into the minimalist and conceptualist world, and his attention to detail was excruciating. It was inspiring to watch him set up an expectation and meet it. Many of the manifestations of his creativity can be seen at the Canadian Art Database at the Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art.

Peter lived and worked in Cobourg for many many years. The Art Gallery of Northumberland has a number of works by Peter in its permanent collection. Unfortunately Cobourg never took a shine to erect any of his sculptures in the public domain, but Cobourg’s loss, is the gain of many other communities. Here is an example of one of Peter’s works on Queen’s University campus. For the 35 years I lived in Toronto, it was a pleasure to sit in one of his minimal frames at Harbourfront.

I was a teenage hippie when I wrote this inadequate poem about Peter, however, I eventually reached some of his standards and wrote a piece worthy of a literary/arts journal,
IMPULSE, Vol. 2 No.4, Spring 1975.
Click on image to enlarge

2 comments:

Stephen said...

I was very sorry to hear of Peter's passing, I worked with Peter at his studio behind the Dutch Oven, he payed me with his guidance and a can of sardines and crackers for lunch I will never forget my time spent with him.

Allison MacDuffee said...

Peter was my teacher at the Cobourg Art Club. He was an inspired teacher who always set high standards for his students; he was also a brilliant artisti and a delightful friend.