I had never heard of Cape Dorset artist Jamasie Pitseolak until recently, but when I saw images of sculptures related to his just-opened solo show at Marion Scott Gallery in Vancouver, my interest was definitely piqued: An Easy Rider–worthy serpentinite motorcycle that flaunts the head of an Inuit sea goddess. A stone-carved Fender guitar whose ivory inlays include an ice-floe evoking polar bear. A portrait of a Nunavut artist comprised of an inukshuk-decorated chair and a caribou-antler camera.
Fun stuff! So I chatted with him on the phone a bit this week and wrote up a previewy thing that went up at Canadianart.ca yesterday. An excerpt:
“When I started carving, I was doing traditional pieces,” says Pitseolak over the phone from his home in Cape Dorset. “I felt at that time I wasn’t really connecting with my inner soul, if you will. So I started doing electric guitars, and from there it kind of snowballed. I guess I wasn’t seeing myself excelling doing those traditional pieces because everyone is doing it, you know?”
Of course, there are other Cape Dorset artists doing "nontraditional" work that has been picked up on the "down south" contemporary-art radar: Annie Pootoogook, whose revealing domestic-scene drawings made her winner of the 2006 Sobey Award; Shuvinai Ashoona, whose fantastical montages were recently shown in the Canadian Biennial; and Samonie Toonoo, whose dark sculptures were the toast of Toronto last summer. And the current survey Inuit Modern at the AGO traces the diversity of this genre.
Still, Pitseolak's work does stand out from "traditional" Inuit carving. There's also a couple of quite sombre works in the show, which is a suprise given his usually humorous and lighthearted take. I found these prints very raw and painful to look at, and also very important. To learn about those, read on at Canadianart.ca.
Only a few images were in the article, so I'm posting more below:
Friday, May 13, 2011
Jamasie Pitseolak's Peter Pitseolak's Chair
Jamasie Pitseolak's Dad's Guitar (he says this is a couple of feet long, not full-size; he doesn't play guitar, but his dad does)
Jamasie Pitseolak's Lace Me Up
Jamasie Pitseolak's Two Barrel Shotgun
Jamasie Pitseolak's My Second Grader
(Lead image of Jamasie Pitseolak's Sedna Chopper via Canadianart.ca; all images courtesy of the artist and Marion Scott Gallery)
Posted by Leah Sandals at 12:53 PM