The Marion Scott Gallery and Kardosh Projects are pleased
to announce an exhibition of works celebrating the life
and legacy of Kananginak Pootoogook (1935-2010). On view
from December 10 to January 28, the exhibition will comprise
27 drawings made by Pootoogook across the last five years,
including some of his last works produced in the months
before his death in November 2010. An opening reception
and public tribute will be held in the gallery on Saturday,
December 10, from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
In an artistic career that lasted more than five decades,
Pootoogook produced a body of work of lasting cultural
and aesthetic significance. Born in 1935 in a small hunting
camp on southern Baffin Island near Cape Dorset, he was
raised to be a hunter and trapper like his father. But
in 1957, he began collaborating with James Houston, an
artist from southern Canada hired by the federal government
to establish the North’s first printmaking studio. Working
first as a printmaker responsible for translating drawings
by the community’s older artists into limited edition
stonecut prints, Pootoogook soon developed his own drawing
style. Alongside the print shop’s national and international
success, Pootoogook’s own artistic career blossomed.
He became known especially for his careful studies of
birds and other northern wildlife. Later, he began making
a visual record of Inuit culture in transition, documenting
many of the changes he had witnessed throughout his lifetime.
Pootoogook continued to draw until the spring of 2010,
when illness forced him to seek treatment in an Ottawa
The exhibition will feature a number of Pootoogook’s
distinctive wildlife portraits, including several of
caribou, a subject for which he was especially known.
In these iconic images, Pootoogook represents the animal’s
seasonal habits, using unconventional perspectives to
show these majestic creatures from a variety of startling
angles. Other drawings portray birds that frequent the
arctic, including families of snowy owls and colonies
of murres (sea birds that resemble penguins). In a few
works, Pootoogook has used bird forms as a starting point
for more purely abstract compositions.
The exhibition is notable also for several images that
document social and cultural change in the North. In
a fascinating series of drawings from 2006, the artist
has appropriated modern ethnographic representations
to create his own catalogue of traditional and modern
tools, as these index various phases and transformations
of Inuit culture. Other images portray the use of modern
technology such as skidoos and augers or ice drills.
In a suite of autobiographical drawings from 2010, among
the last works the artist produced, Pootoogook depicts
himself, either alone or in the company of Shooyoo, his
wife. In one especially brilliant image, he presents
himself circa 1965 as a young man wearing a suit and
sunglasses—a look back at his early days as a global
ambassador for the new expressions coming out of the
Partial proceeds from the exhibition will be donated
to a social services organization in Cape Dorset.