Twelve by Twelve

Shuvinai Ashoona, COMPOSITION (2024), 2022, Coloured pencil and ink, 50 x 85 in.

Exhibition opened June 28, 2022

We are pleased to present the group exhibition Twelve by Twelve, featuring 12 stellar works by 12 great Inuit artists. Expertly selected by Pat Feheley herself, these works represent the breadth and diversity in style and subject presented by artists from the Canadian North. Artists in the show come primarily from Kinngait, Nunavut, with the exception of Niap who was born in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik and is now based in Montreal.

Works range from the small and serene, such as Niap’s tranquil landscape Killituk (2021); to the large and bold, such as Shuvinai Ashoona’s Composition (2024), (2022). Frenzied and fantastical, the creation of Ashoona’s piece was recently photographed and featured in a June 2022 New York Times article. In other works, subjects deemed more “traditional,” such as animals or shaman take on new and unique forms through specialized techniques. Both Quvianaqtuk Pudlat’s Composition (Sneaking Polar Bear) (2021), and Johnny Pootoogook’s Transformation (2019), demonstrate delicately applied colour pencil to add luscious texture to their work.

Nujalia Quvianaqtuliaq and Pauojoungie Saggiak are two artists who are on the rise. Quvianaqtuliaq works as a printer at the Kinngait Studios and also creates drawings. His first print was selected for the 2020 Annual Cape Dorset Print Collection and is representative of his preferred subject matter: the landscape. Saggiak’s animal images have been included in the annual collections many times, characterized by bold line and blocks of colour. Works by both artists in Twelve by Twelve utilize the daunting medium of black paper to create dreamy compositions in vibrant coloured pencil.

Jutai Toonoo’s ink drawing Composition (Many Many Faces) from 2009 conveys a common theme in the artist’s work: identity and the fact that one person may be made up of many selves. Padloo Samayualie depicts mask-wearing figures strolling down a street in Kinngait, braving both a pandemic and global warming. Qavavau Manumie’s drawing Composition (Saving the Whale) (2022) also addresses contemporary issues related to the environment, such as overfishing. Helpful belugas free their fish friends from a net, while seals and birds pull walrus tusks out from a punctured whale due to unknown circumstances.

Colourful and dynamic, drawings by Ooloosie Saila and Ningiukulu Teevee harken to subjects from their earlier works, taking them to new levels. Saimaiyu Akesuk’s Composition (Stripe-Winged Bird) (2022) similarly draws on the artist’s signature style, colourful yet static, though she explores a new muted palette. Each artist’s work is unique in their own right, representing the truly diverse art form of contemporary Inuit art.

See each of the works in the online exhibition below paired with remarks by Pat Feheley.