Modern Inuit art today reflects both traditional Inuit artistic expression and contemporary experiences and conditions of living in the Far North. In its most successful form, it takes these influences, issues and struggles and turns them into innovative, unexpected and exciting works that not only break preconceived notions about what Inuit art should look like but that also speak to Inuit and collectors from all over the world alike. This new exhibition aims to showcase artists and artworks that exemplify this modern practice.
In the year 2000, we first highlighted a new generation of emerging Inuit artists who were on the forefront of modern Inuit art in an exhibition called Sculpting Talent and then revisited them in our Momentum exhibition in 2005. With Continuum, we return to the now established artists who were featured in these previous shows (Pudlalik Shaa, Kooyoo Peter, Jutai Toonoo and Padlaya Qiatsuq) and have added new artists that are deserving of inclusion in the same group. Relatively new artists Isacie Etidloie, Ningeosiak Ashoona and Samonie Toonoo are creating works that are unique and exciting and their careers are rapidly gathering strength. Toonoo Sharky on the other hand has long been held as one of Cape Dorset’s young but established artists.
Many of the exhibition’s artists come from a lineage of well-known sculptural artists. Pudlalik Shaa and Kooyoo Peter are both sons of widely recognized sculptors (Axangayu Shaa and Eyeetiak Peter) while Padlaya Qiatsuq’s grandfather was celebrated first generation artist Lukta Qiatsuk. This intimacy with stone carving and traditional sculptural imagery from an early age, has not resulted in works that try to emulate the sculptures of their acclaimed older family members. On the contrary, the artists seem to be united in their attempt to create works that are reflective of their deeply personal experiences in a modern world.
While many pieces are rooted in traditional imagery, they take on new, more diverse meanings. As such, a transformational work can be more than the depiction of a shaman’s powers. It can also be a personal evaluation of aspects of the current conditions of arctic life and the demands and pressure that come with it.
Continuum offers a glimpse into the ongoing changes in Inuit culture and the fascinating artistic expressions by artists that confidently take these challenges and transform them into a part of Inuit identity. It also highlights the connection that these works have with traditional Inuit imagery as much as they may differ visually. While modern Inuit art takes in the influences of today’s globalised world, it will continue to express an Inuit view of the world and depict life in the Arctic as it is experienced by the Inuit.
© Copyright 2014 Inuit Gallery of Vancouver Ltd.