The tradition of fantastic sculpture has had—and continues to have—an important place in the history of modern Inuit art. From the early manifestations in the sculpture of Cape Dorset in the 1950s and Povungnituk in the late 1960s to more recent developments in the central Arctic communities of Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak (Spence Bay) and Kugaaruk (Pelly Bay), the fantastic tradition has given rise to some of the most powerful works to come out of the North in the last 50 years.
While not a comprehensive overview of the history of this significant and enduring
Inuit Fantastic Sculpture does include examples from all the major
schools and most time periods. The exhibition features works by such modern
masters as Nick
Sikkuark, Josiah Nuilaalik and Lukta
Qiatsuk alongside examples by lesser-known artists including Timothy
Jar and Peter Angutikirq. The fact that some
of the pieces have been produced within the last year testifies to the tradition’s
As the exhibition demonstrates, the fantastic in Inuit art assumes many different
forms and shapes. While the majority of the works in the exhibition portray
legendary or supernatural creatures including spirits and transforming shamans,
some give imaginative or fantastical form to real (everyday) beings such as
whales and fish. Similarly, some works express the feeling for the fantastic
through a language of abstraction while others portray otherworldly subjects
in styles that are themselves naturalistic.