Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Illustrator Jerzy Kolacz dies

Sorry to have word, via Mastheadonline, that illustrator and painter Jerzy Kolacz has died at the age of 70. I was on the staff of The City magazine, a short-lived weekly glossy supplement to the Toronto Sunday Star ( the magazine was published 1977 - 1980) when Kolacz arrived in Toronto in 1978 and brought his portfolio around looking for work.

Almost immediately, The City -- and many other magazines based in Toronto and elsewhere -- started giving him commissions for covers and feature illustrations, each with a wry humour and a European style and sensibility. His work appeared in Homemaker's, later in Elm Street and Masthead as well as Canadian Business. He worked as deftly in black-and-white as in colour and was an accomplished painter as well as illustrator. Later, he became an instructor at the Ontario College of Art and Design and was inducted into the Canadian Academy of Fine Arts.

Donna Braggins, formerly art director of Maclean's and Canadian Business, now a teacher at Sheridan College, said of Kolacz:
"He brought an outsider sensibility to Canadian art. He was an important part of the broader movement to bring alternative voices."
Communication World magazine at one point named him one of the world's ten most successful humorous illustrators. (The image at the top of this post was from an 1993 cover illustration for New Internationalist. The picture above, right, is Kolacz with one of his bold abstract paintings.)

Kolacz, who was born in Poland in 1938 and graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Art, died of cancer on June 15 and is survived by his wife, Eva, son Peter and stepdaughter Patty.



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