Itee Pootoogook
Photographic Memories

July 20 – August 10, 2019

Feheley Fine Arts is pleased to present an online exhibition of drawings by Itee Pootoogook (1951–2014). Known as Kinngait Studio’s most meticulous draftsman, Pootoogook was also one of the first artists to draw from photographs. The selection of works in Photographic Memories range from the beginning (1990s) to the very end (early 2010s) of the artist’s three-decade long career and feature a diverse array of subject matter that recalls community life, both past and present. The thread of photographic influence that runs through Photographic Memories is present: a young boy poses in front of a wall, the lithography shop’s front step cropped according to the rule-of-thirds, and an airplane captured during flight—these, and more, evoke looking at the world through a camera’s viewfinder.

Alongside Pootoogook’s more familiar drawings of contemporary life and objects of the everyday, a number of drawings that depict pre-settlement life are featured in Photographic Memories. Many were based on film photographs taken by Pootoogook’s uncle Peter Pitseolak (1902–1973) in the 1940s and 50s. Striking examples include Composition (Figures on the Land), 1995–96, based on Pitseolak’s black and white photograph of his family members, including from left to right: Kananginak, Eegevudluk, Paulassie (father of Itee), Pudlat, Salamonie, Pootoogook, and Ningeookaluk. Composition (Hunters Pulling Seal), 2000; Igloo, 2010; and Composition (Skin Clothing), 2000, likewise recall memories from south Baffin Island’s past. Through his use of both historical and contemporary photographs, Pootoogook’s drawings eloquently bring together memories from past and present.

Pootoogook was born in Lake Harbour (Kimmirut) and moved to Cape Dorset (Kinngait) as a child in the late-1950s. He embarked on his drawing career in the late-1980s and produced work for almost three decades. The serenity of Pootoogook’s brightly coloured drawings of his community won him a wide audience amongst collectors, curators, and artists alike. In 2014, his work was exhibited alongside the paintings of Alex Colville at the Art Gallery of Ontario. He has been featured in major exhibitions including Inuit Modern: The Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection (2011) at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Slow Sight: Itee Pootoogook and Tim Zuck (2012) at the MacLaren Art Centre, and most recently the blockbuster solo exhibition Itee Pootoogook: Hymns to the Silence (2019) at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Pootoogook’s work can be found in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada, the Senvest Collection of Canadian Art, and the TD Bank Group.

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