The Marion Scott Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition
of new and recent work by Cape Dorset’s Jamasie Pitseolak.
On view from May 12 to June 12, Jamasie Pitseolak:
Sculptures, Drawings, Prints will feature more than
30 images produced across the last five years. The long
awaited exhibition will be the first to focus entirely
on the artist’s expression, and includes sculptures as
well as works on paper. A public reception will be held
on Thursday, May 12 from 6 to 8 pm, and a closing talk
with the artist will be held on Saturday, June 11 at
At 42, Jamasie Pitseolak is at the forefront of a generation
of Inuit artists who are bringing new ideas and sensibilities
to the evolving tradition of northern art. Born in 1968
in Cape Dorset on southern Baffin Island, Pitseolak belongs
to the first generation of Inuit who grew up in permanent
year-round settlements. The son of artists Mark and Ookpik
Pitseolak, he began carving when he was 8 or 9, selling
his first works to the Hudson’s Bay Company. One of his
earliest influences was his grandfather, Peter Pitseolak,
a well-known carver and photographer from the Dorset
area. Feeling a lack of connection with more traditional
themes and unsatisfied with the direction of his work,
he began incorporating unconventional modern imagery
into his expression in the late 1990s.
Like many Inuit sculptors, Pitseolak works in a range
of organic and non-organic indigenous materials, including
stone, antler and ivory. The similarity ends there. Whereas
most Inuit artists produce sculptures from single blocks
of stone, Pitseolak works like a collagist, painstakingly
assembling his images from individually carved pieces.
Equally inventive is his distinctive modern subject matter.
Instead of traditional images of hunters and wildlife,
Pitseolak tends to represent distinctly modern objects—motorcycles,
machinery with moveable parts, guitars and tables (complete
The present exhibition also features a series of large
format drawings. Completed during a fall 2010 residency
at Montreal’s Studio PM, these works further reflect
Pitseolak’s interest in representing single objects.
One charcoal drawing portrays an electric guitar; another
features a tree in a forest; a third depicts a jug with
flowers. Another work in the same suite features a heavily
worked image of John Lennon as a cultural icon. As with
the sculptures, these two-dimensional images reflect
the artist’s bold contemporary sensibility.
The majority of Pitseolak’s works are marked by a playful
charm, a quality reflected also in his sculptures’ titles,
many of which are based on puns. That said, some works
show a more serious approach. The exhibition includes
several representations of guns and modern weaponry,
and it is possible to read these as the artist’s engagement
with local and global violence. Also included is a pair
of drypoint etchings in which the artist invokes a painful
episode from his past. These personal works, rendered
in a raw expressionism, are both difficult and direct
in their thematic and emotional address.
Pitseolak’s work is in many private and public collections,
including the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Canadian Museum
of Civilization. Jamasie Pitseolak: Sculptures, Drawings,
Prints is his first solo exhibition.