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Koliesar, Iuliian/Kolesar, Julijan

Koliesar, Iuliian/Kolesar, Julijan (b. July 15, 1927, Djurdjevo, Yugoslavia; d. March 26, 1992, Montreal, Quebec, Canada) — painter, poet, ethnographer, and writer in Yugoslavia and Canada of Rusyn national orientation. Koliesar was trained as a graphic artist at the School of Applied Arts in Novi Sad (1949-1954). He left Yugoslavia permanently in 1966, living for a few years in Paris and then in the United States, where he worked as a commercial artist (1969-1973), before moving to Montreal, where he spent the rest of his life painting and writing. Koliesar employed a wide range of styles and techniques, producing icons that follow the guidelines of medieval iconography as well as neo-realist, expressionist, cubist, and abstract canvases. His paintings often drew upon themes from Vojvodinian Rusyn life and used strong colors reminiscent of folk art.

While in Canada, Koliesar wrote numerous studies about the Vojvodinian Rusyns and published them privately under what he called the Koliesar Rusnak Institute of America/Ruski institut Iu. Kol’esarovoho Ameriki. These included over a hundred works dealing with history, historiography, ethnography, language, and art history, all of which were written in what he called the “Pannonian Rusyn” language. The only work to reach a wider audience was published posthumously in Yugoslavia, Istoriia ruskoho narodnoho mena (1996). Most of Koliesar’s writings were polemical in nature. He was, in particular, highly critical of the Ukrainian orientation followed by some Vojvodinian Rusyn linguists and writers, arguing instead that his people are a branch of a separate Carpatho-Rusyn nationality. In the 1990s the Kholoshniai family established a permanent exhibit on Koliesar’s life and work within the museum of ethnography at the Greek Catholic parish in Djurdjevo. His papers are held in the National Archives of Canada in Ottawa.

Bibliography: “Lirichni realizm iak pamiatka: Iuliian Koliesar, 1927-1992,” Shvetlosts, XXX, 2-6 (Novi Sad, 1992), pp. 179-182; Liubomir Medieshi, “Shlidi blahei Koliesarovei dushi,” in Iuliian Koliesar, Istoriia ruskoho narodnoho mena (Novi Sad, 1996), pp. 241-246.

Paul Robert Magocsi

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.
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