The Marion Scott Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition
of new and recent drawings by Cape Dorset’s Itee Pootoogook.
On view from March 12 to April 10, Itee Pootoogook includes
40 meticulously rendered images, mostly dating from 2006
through to the present. Included are landscapes, still
lifes, and portraits of friends and acquaintances. The
exhibition, Pootoogook’s first with MSG, inaugurates
the gallery’s new space on Granville Street, located
in the heart of Vancouver’s vibrant gallery district.
A resident of Cape Dorset, Nunavut, Pootoogook belongs
to a new generation of Inuit artists who are transforming
and reshaping the creative traditions that were successfully
pioneered by their parents and grandparents during the
second half of the 20th century. In his graphite and
coloured pencil drawings, Pootoogook presents us with
an image of modern northern life quite different from
the one we are accustomed to seeing in much Inuit art.
Instead of traditional subjects such as igloos and parka-clad
hunters and their prey, we are shown an everyday contemporary
Inuit world, one made up of snowmobiles, wooden boats,
soft drinks and modern interiors complete with television
The exhibition features a number of images representing
northern architecture, a theme that is especially important
to Pootoogook. In some cases, modern houses are shown
in barren northern landscapes, serving as poetic testaments
to human resilience in this vast and inhospitable region.
In other works, Pootoogook focuses on the rectangular
forms of windows and exterior walls, revelling in their
formal clarity and abstract elegance. In a different
part of his oeuvre, Pootoogook’s portraits show members
of his community doing their work (whether stone carving
or construction) or relaxing at home (in front of a TV
or on a sofa).
Pootoogook’s way of making images is equally inventive.
The heightened realism in his works, combined with his
attention to the more mundane features of everyday northern
life, gives evidence of a strikingly contemporary artistic
sensibility. Pootoogook’s frequent use of photographs
as source material for his images is a further indication
of his contemporaneity, contributing to the sense of
psychological calm, minimal incident and stillness that
pervades many of the images.
Pootoogook was born in 1951 in Kimmirut (formerly
Lake Harbour) on southern Baffin Island, moving to Cape
Dorset when he was still a child. The son of artists Ishuhungitok
and Paulassie Pootoogook, Itee made his first drawings
in the mid-1980s, receiving encouragement from the managers
of the community’s renowned printmaking studio. This early
period of exploration with the drawing medium was interrupted
following a temporary move back to Kimmirut in the late
1980s. Pootoogook resumed his interest in drawing when
he returned to Dorset in the late 1990s. In 2008 one of
his images was included in the community’s spring print
collection. His work is in the collections of the Art Gallery
of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada.
“Itee Pootoogook: A Comfort Level in the Medium,” Inuit
Art Quarterly, Vol. 25, no. 3, Fall 2010
Robert Enright, “Drawing in the Cold,” Border
Crossings, issue no. 115