Jutai Toonoo (1959 – 2015)
Contemporary Drawings: Falling CupWhen Jutai Toonoo passed away in late December, 2015, he was exactly where he wanted to be – sitting at his drawing table. Jutai was born in an igloo in a camp outside Cape Dorset, son of noted artists Sheojuk and Toonoo, and brother to renowned carvers Oviloo Tunnillie and Samonie Toonoo. These three artists rejected “traditional” Inuit subject matter and put a face to issues important to them in the contemporary world. Jutai made his first carving at age 7 under his father's guidance, and took up carving professionally as a young man. The Cape Dorset graphic program was never of interest to Jutai until Annie Pootoogook and Shuvanai Ashoona's work opened his eyes to the possibilities that medium held. From then on drawing became his passion, and anything or everything entered his artistic orbit from human faces to his lovely drawing, Falling Cup. His work often incorporated words, his way of “yelling at the universe,” and giving insight into his state of mind. Jutai often made portraits of the people around him and the Inuit Gallery has a fine group of drawings from the archive of Jutai's work, including the stunning portrait of a man in red (Portrait), a forthright and compelling image in shades of red, blue and yellow, or the intimate image of a sleeping man whose face seems to reflect an uneasy mind. We also have some of his remarkable drawings of objects, such as Catch a Falling Pot, or the beautiful, melancholy Feeling Helpless, Knowing You Exist. We are also fortunate to have one of Jutai's lovely serpentine cavings featuring a delicate profile along the front, with text reading The Joke is on Me on one side, and I am a Fool in the roundel on the other side.
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