Blind Leading the Blind, 1966
oil, lacquer, and graphite over gesso on masonite
67.4 x 93.6 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 28801)
courtesy the Estate of William Kurelek
Based on the parable from Matthew 15:14, the title and subject of this work are derived from Pieter Bruegel the Elder's (c. 1520-1569) painting from 1568 of the same name. Not only are the figures physically blind - they wear dark glasses and fall into the water - but in the eyes of the Roman Catholic artist they demonstrate their spiritual blindness in brandishing the Jehovah's Witnesses magazine "Awake"!. William Kurelek converted to Catholicism in 1957 at the age of 29. Well aware of the tensions between his faith and that of the Jehovah's Witnesses, he devoted his art to "paint the sense of impending doom of our times; and the way of salvation too."