Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Inuit Modern

On my bi-weekly tours of the AGO's Canadian gallery, I usually include a brief exploration of the Inuit Modern exhibit, because I love it. Except that last week they had changed all of the prints and drawings on the walls and I didn't realize until I was halfway through my tour. I was a little perturbed that they removed "Enchanted Owl" by Kenojuak Ashevak from 1960, which is the most perfect piece of graphic work ever created.

Enchanted Owl, by Kenojuak Ashevak (1960)
The outlines of the feathers are varied and imperfect but in my mind, this only serves to make the overall image more perfect looking. I don't think the owl would be nearly as powerful if each feather was a flawlessly clean-lined and Photoshopped shape.

Inuit prints and drawings often have animals or figures floating in mid-air and objects don't seem to be realistically situated in space. However, the Inuit perspective was explained to me thus: In the Arctic, figures appear to just pop out from a white background. I imagine, sometimes, everything is white - sky and ground alike. As in a whiteout, there is literally no clear horizon line.

Photo of a whiteout in Antarctica from Wikipedia

In context, this makes Inuit drawings totally realistic.

Hunter and Inuit on the Land, by Ruth Annaqtuusi Tulurialik

See what I'm saying? 

Compare the above to drawings of interiors by Annie Pootoogook. 

Calling Annie, by Annie Pootoogook
Space is clearly delineated (e.g. the radio is on the table; the table is in front of the wall), but the picture still looks fairly 2-dimensional and objects on the wall are scattered about in the same way that figures are scattered about in many other Inuit drawings. This is a phenomenon I cannot explain. Go to the Inuit Modern exhibit and make your own conclusions. It'll be on until October 16th. 

No comments:

Post a Comment