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Ashevak and Pitsiulak exhibit coming to AGO

Tim Pitsiulak, Swimming Bear, 2016. Black ink and coloured pencil on paper, Overall: 74.9 × 105.4 cm. Purchase, 2017 © Estate of Tim Pitsiulak

“Tunirrusiangit” means “their gifts” or “the gifts they gave” in Inuktitut. It is also the name of a new exhibit by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto, which will showcase the artwork of Kenojuak Ashevak and her nephew Tim Pitsiulak from June 16 to August 12, this year.

Hailing from Kinngait (previously known as Cape Dorset) Nunavut, Kenojuak Ashevak (1927–2013), an Order of Canada recipient, is known as the “grandmother of Inuit art”. She is famous for her fluid graphic storytelling and stunning use of magic markers. Ashevak heavily inspired Pitsiulak (1967–2016), who became a popular figure in Inuit art during his relatively short career for drawing animal figures with a hunter’s precision, and for capturing the technological presence of the South in the hamlet. It will be Pitsiulak’s first major gallery retrospective.

Kenojuak Ashevak, Luminous Char, 2008. Stonecut, stencil, Overall: 51.1 × 63.8 cm. Courtesy of Dorset Fine Arts. © Estate of Kenojuak Ashevak

This exhibition is a new venture in collaboration and curating at the AGO and will feature many drawings, sketches and prints by Ashevak and Pitsiulak, highlighting their immense creativity, confidence and artistic ambition. It will showcase works from the AGO Collection (the second-largest collection of Inuit art in the country), important pieces from Dorset Fine Arts, newly-commissioned work from contemporary artists, as well as significant loans from public, private and corporate collections, such as TD Bank Group’s Inuit art collection.

The AGO has also invited Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage (MICH) project at York University as well as the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative (WBEC) to bring together a curatorial team comprising of Inuit artists and curators to lead the project.