Pitseolak Qimirpik: Whimsy

CLOWN FISH (CLOWN CROWN FISH), 2022, Coloured pencil, 15 x 22 5/8 in.

Exhibition opened June 22, 2023

Pitseolak Qimirpik’s work is whimsical. Known best for his sculptural practice which he began at thirteen years old under his father, Kellypalik Qimirpik (1948–2017), Qimirpik’s subjects are notable for their playful and humorous energy. In this exhibition of new work, Feheley Fine Arts is excited to present a selection of the artist’s sculptures in conjunction with his coloured pencil drawings. New to drawing, Qimirpik has embraced the art form whole-heartedly, successfully achieving cohesion between both media. While coloured pencil and stone are radically different materials, the essence of Qimirpik’s quirky and fantastically perplexing subjects translate wonderfully across both art forms.

Intricate transforming compositions hold a large presence in the show. The theme of transformation holds an equally strong tradition in Inuit art, originating from shamanism. Through humour and wit, Qimirpik brings a contemporary twist to this traditional theme. For example, in the drawing Simpson’s Family / Earth, Sun & Mammal Transformation (2022), each character from the Simpson’s participates in a transformation with a peculiar element – Grandpa/bird; Homer and Marge/tulip; Bart/dinosaur. This all occurs against a backdrop inspired by Kinngait’s local landscape, where baby Maggie appears as the Arctic sun. The sculpture Animal Composition with Tulip (2023), which depicts a totem of transforming Arctic animals and figures capped of by a tulip, is likewise a delightfully creative take on the well-known theme.

Poignant elements also appear in works across the show. The Devil figures in various sculptures, as either a fire-breather, or classic pitchfork-holder. In drawings, demonic faces hide amongst the animal/Simpson’s transformations, often depicted with brightly coloured skin (blue, green, purple, or red) with pupil-less eyes. When asked about works like Satan Playing with Soul (2022), the artist explained that recent suicides in his community compelled him to depict such subjects. An important reminder that behind the images of whimsy lie the realities of everyday life. Through his artistic practice, Qimirpik reflects on the present, past, and the otherworldly in extraordinary ways.

Pitseolak Qimirpik (b. 1986) is a sculptor and graphic artist based in Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Nunavut, Canada. He began to carve at a young age and quickly established himself as a technically skilled artist with an eye for the idiosyncratic. Rooting his practice in traditional Inuit art forms (figures, animals, scenes), Qimirpik often incorporates references to pop-culture and contemporary life in his work, increasingly blending the fantastical with the real in amusing ways. Feheley Fine Arts held the artist’s first solo exhibition Phantasmagoria online in April 2020.

To view available artworks by Pitseolak Quimirpik, click here.