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Inside William
Kurelek’s Maze

The film shone stark light on Kurelek’s (1927-1977) lack of opportunity to develop autonomy as a child. The Maze masterfully depicted the emotional wreckage of intrusive parenting he experienced growing up on the farm. Although resiliency allowed him to pursue art studies, find his own family life and gain recognition, the international approval was no substitute for parental validation. The perseverance helped him reach his goal as an artist, but being not manly enough in his father’s eyes hindered his emotional and mental functioning as an adult.
Kurelek, hollowed with dismissal and judgment filled the void with fantasy-reality. Imagination became a safe haven but turned its back during his marriage, when he realized it would not be a constant euphoria.


The lack of secure attachment to his parents, crippled his own parental ability. He was able to accept but did not know how to nurture his children emotionally.

William’s wife advocated for his loud, even violent ways to release his anger. She believed that because he was withdrawn for most of his life, screaming and kicking objects was more therapeutic than trying to remain calm as recommended by doctors.

In the end, although some of his work portrayed sunlight, open space and safety of family life, there was always a trace of darkness camouflaged in the painting.

The film was one insight into many of child/parent disconnects. Kurelek used his artistic language to communicate his need to belong, as well as to comment on the greed and isolation dominating a world full of people. The orchestra of pigs following in perfect unison a conductor monkey to represent conforming to society, condoning a blind eye to the norms that dictate conventional success of being a lawyer or a doctor to be respected and accepted by society.

To learn more about the filmmaker Robert M. Young and the history of the movie go to

Review by Kasia Ignatowska

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