Copyright 2007  Peter A. Barelkowski. All rights reserved




Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition 2008

(Nathan Phillips Square, July 11-13)


Peter A. Barelkowski’s paintings feature odd groupings of people and objects, executed in a hasty, primitive style but suggesting some ominous, nightmarish story.


Patrick Donohue




Sunday, March 1, 2009 (New York Artexpo 2009)


Of particular interest to me were the paintings of Polish-born, Toronto-based artist Peter Barelkowski.

His work, in many ways reminded me of Haitian-born Francks Francois Décéus, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the National Black Fine Art Show a couple of weeks ago.

Barelkowski delves into the emotional states associated with sadness and isolation, but he juxtaposes his subtexts with what he refers to as “one-dimensional, cartoonish-style”

subjects who bring out “grotesque undertones.” I look forward to further exploring his work and perhaps becoming a collector of his work.


Paul Niemi, Publicist




Lost Aussie on The Loose Marie Otero

March 01, 2009

Art Expo'ing in NYC


A ?Balmy 40+F today so we took to the streets of NYC for our weekend outing and headed to the Javits Center to scope out the 2009 Art Expo. Smaller

than last year yet still  filled with inspiration and interest.

Favored artists included work from
Peter A Barelkowski 


Your work is really lovely. Speaking of Art Expo, I, too, liked Peter Barelkowski's work. I'm thinking I might buy a piece.

He seemed like a pretty humble guy as well. Since I got the permission of artists to use images, check out my video and blog for some visuals.

I really need some better video editing software, though. Cheers!

Posted by: Paul | March 02, 2009 at 04:26 PM


 Toronto Art Expo 2009


Metro Toronto Convention Centre; March 19-22


Since there’s relatively little cutting-edge art in this show, we may as well start with some examples that stand out. Peter A. Barelkowski’s

odd little figures against vast, empty backgrounds say much about the loneliness of the human condition. 


Patrick Donohue



2010 Salon Show;

Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts; 984 Queen Street West, Toronto; to Jan 17


For this show, I find myself wanting to cite a separate category for "ironic painting". This surely is where Peter Barelkowski’s work belongs.

I have previously admired his tiny figures on white backgrounds. Here, for a change, they appear against backgrounds of dark blue, black and red.

One particularly haunting Barelkowski shows a forlorn little man surrounded by almost impenetrable darkness.


Patrick Donohue




The Artist Project 2010

(Exhibition) Queen Elizabeth Building, Exhibition Place, Toronto; until March 7


Surely Peter A. Barelkowski’s odd, cartoonish people stranded in their bleak landscapes express something of a child’s bewilderment about the place of humans in the world?




The Ontario Society of Artists New Members Exhibit 2009

John B. Aird Gallery, Toronto; until January 8, 2010


I have admired Peter Barelkowski’s odd little humanoids in previous shows. Here, he shows one large figure with its torso opened to reveal a chair, a ladder and such workings inside. On the exterior, pipes connected to the body, as if by way of plumbing, add to the thought-provoking effect.


Patrick Donohue

























The Ontario Society of Artists (OSA) is Canada's longest surviving artists society, and to celebrate its 138th anniversary Gallery Stratford is presenting

a juried exhibition of 85 works from 61 OSA members.

Being in Time, which opened Sunday, was pulled together by guest curator Carla Garnet for the gallery. The show includes abstract works,

a few sculpted pieces, works in watercolour, acrylics and fabric.

One of the most evocative pieces is an untitled oil on canvas by Toronto artist Peter Barelkowski.

The 64- by 56-inch piece shows a relatively tiny clownish figure rendered in white standing out beyond a crowd of minimally drawn figures.

Apart from the central figures the canvas is black.

"I explore the human experience of loneliness and isolation. Creating a paradox between my joyful colours and darker subject matter,

 my paintings attempt to play with our ideas around sadness," says a quote from the artist.

Zhe Gu, executive director of the gallery, said the works were selected from submissions from 90 artists.

"It's a celebration of what current OSA members are doing," she said.


by Otis Tamasauskas and Harold Klunder.

Gallery Stratford highlights works of OSA

Posted By DONAL O'CONNOR, Staff Reporter Beacon Herald

Gallery Stratford executive director Zhe Gu stands among some of the works in the Gallery's juried exhibition of art from the Ontario Society of Artists.

 SCOTT WISHART The Beacon Herald.

I recently read about a contemporary art dealer who only liked art he couldn’t understand. For me, Peter Barelkowski’s work would certainly meet that criterion: a large canvas, mostly white, with fine lines scratched into it representing something that looks like a cow with pinkish teats and a blob of ghastly red by the tail. Inside the "cow" are rectangles that look like rooms with ladders in them (the ladder being a frequent motif in Mr. Barelkowski’s work, I believe). Scattered elsewhere in the painting are simple chair-shapes. You could look at that one for a long time without figuring out what it means but it is worth the looking.


March 16, 2011


Although I've been familiar with this artist's paintings for a while, this was the first time I got to know him face to face. I love, love, love his art. When I asked Peter A .Barelkowski, what is the central idea behind his paintings, he said "Anger."


Olga Kotova,,

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fabulous paintings! (sorry I couldn't show a pic -- but I stood in front of his booth for a long TIME :)

martha brown

Toronto, Canada

Destination unknown (blog)


The Painting Award for “Exodus”


(The Best in the Paintings Category)


presented by the Ontario Society of Artists, July 2011

at the OSA Members Exhibition of Selected Works, 2011

 (Papermill Gallery, Todmorden Mills Museum, Toronto)

Private collection

Edmonton Sun

Interview with Sandy Jobin-Bevans

By Marcy Cornblum



“There is a big piece of art hanging in the main entrance. It is a painting

by Peter A. Barelkowski. It is mostly white, with a ladder leading down

to a red box that contains a single chair. I like to think of it as a place

where an individual can go to be away from the world”.



Edmonton Sun,  Tuesday February 14, 2012, Master of Laughs, Homes Extra

Private collection

You can always count on Peter Barelkowski to offer some mind-teasers with his odd humanoids in strange situations.


Patrick Donohue

October 23, 2012

Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts



HOLIER THAN THOU: Discussing religion and spirituality through art


It was the Thanksgiving weekend and the streets outside were quiet with just the rustling of fallen leaves. On this chilly afternoon, I walked into Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts—a striking, dark orange building in a line of other quirkily appealing independent businesses, cafés and galleries on Queen Street West in Toronto . A curious atmosphere to explore an art showexpressing ideas on religion in our society. This was the exhibition statement from Holier Than Thou:

“The eighteenth century brought us Enlightenment, and with new developments in the Western world, established systems of faith were forced to adapt as various new secular movements gained momentum.  At the dawning of the twenty-first century, religious fervour is once again palpable, especially in political discourse and in war: wreaking havoc, spreading hate and causing pain and suffering. Holier Than Thou is an exhibition that discusses the negative aspects of organized belief systems which are often premised on exclusivity, preference and privilege, and contrasts them with the serenity and hopeful power of the basic tenets of spirituality such as the power of nature, meditation, and the beauty of the human body.”

Inside the gallery, I met Holly Wheatcroft, one of the four artists behind the show. She heartily guided me through the making of the exhibit, providing me with a context around the approach of each of the four artists and how all the works came together to serve the purpose of the show.

The idea was conceived by painter Peter Barelkowski, a Poland native now based in Toronto. Joseph Muscat, born in Malta and currently chair of the Propeller Centre, is a mixed media artist whose tar paper-photographic collages in this exhibit used a wide range of symbols to refer to political, Biblical and environmental issues. The third artist, Keijo Tapanainen originates from Finland and is a digital artist who also created collage compositions from mixed media and photographic images for the exhibit. And Wheatcroft, a Toronto artist, was the sculptor in the quartet. Her works were based around the axis mundi, the communication medium between the heavens and the Earth.

To implement a balance in commentary, two artists focused on the religious and two on the spiritual. Barelkowski’s and Muscat’s works were critiques of religion as organized institutions and of their influence on society through history, while Wheatcroft’s and Tapanainen’s works aimed to convey spiritually elevating messages of the good, peaceful and beautiful.

Each artist also had different approaches in the delivery of their ideas, as Wheatcroft explained. Barelkowski’s commentary is angry and emotionally provocative. There was an unsettling effect reflected in many of his paintings which seemed to show a crowd of mostly faceless people submitting themselves to or looking up to an ostensibly larger-than-life and godlike figure. Other paintings were dark, saddening portrayals of violence. As is described in the exhibition advertisement, “Adapting a visual language of grotesque and satire, Barelkowski effectively confronts the rationalism of historical perspective with the absurdity of political and religious powers that repeatedly throws humanity into the haunting dance macabre of war and annihilation.”

In contrast to Barelkowski’s intensity, Muscat approached his critiques with a humorous playfulness. His vivid mixed media pieces were a discussion of religion with witty plays on religious symbols and customs, “balancing the Sacred with the Profane,” as described in the ad. For instance, the medieval Christian Church’s practice of selling indulgences was teased in a work wherein six indulgences were shown contained in a sardine box, suggesting possibly a bulk sale in a tongue-in-cheek statement.

In the spiritual arena, Wheatcroft and Tapanainen explored the power of positive and peaceful thinking and the beauty of the human body. Wheatcroft’s creations were built specifically around the theme of the axis mundi. In religious mythology, the axis mundi is the communication pole between the heavens and the Earth and Wheatcroft’s objects represented this communication medium. She was discussing personal spirituality and one’s sense of stability and identity through interactive sculptures. Many sculptures referenced religious concepts and into them, Wheatcroft weaved transcendent messages of hope, personal strength and goodness. A work called “Speaking in Tongues,” she explained, references the Biblical idea of when one is possessed with speaking tongues, they’re able to speak in many difference languages, thus equipped to spread the word of God. Through a non-religious interpretation, however, this piece can also convey the idea of spreading universal messages of hope and goodness. Tapanainen’s art focused on the human form and the divinity of it. He seemed to have the most neutral approach in that there weren’t any direct references to the religious, but mostly portrayals of human figures in abstract contexts.

The show was meant to provide a platform to talk about and contemplate the significance of religion through history and in contemporary society. There were critiques and confrontations of the wicked side of religious impact, but on the whole, as Wheatcroft said, the show was subdued in appreciation of the sensitivity associated with this topic. The balance of religion and private spirituality also added a wholistic edge to this discussion. And as with any art, while there were identifiably different approaches taken by all artists, all the works were of course open to various interpretations.

The meaning of religion in society is always a hot topic of conversation, but discussing it through non-verbal and artistic media gives way to different perceptions and emotions that are important to explore and providing that opportunity made this show quite enjoyable. It would, however, also be pretty interesting to see a more stirring—not attacking, but less restrained—version of this show.


by Niyati Shah

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Dilettante's Diary

JANUARY 21, 2011

( Salon V Group Show (Art) by various artists; at the Propeller Gallery, 984 Queen Street West, Toronto )

The Artists Project 2011

I’m constantly astounded by what Peter Barelkowski achieves with the minimum of means: tiny humanoids often wandering in vast space. One painting in this show is nearly all white, with a few daubs of yellow and red, and a greyish blob near the centre. Gradually, you realize that blob consists of a group of people huddled together. What are they waiting for? That’s the fascination of the painting.

Patrick Donohue


Peter Barelkowski’s desolate little people always seem to find themselves adrift in ominous settings that might feature things like ladders or lighted boxes. (This artist is surely one of the most original and expressive voices in the show.)

Patrick Donohue

Dilettante's Diary