Josie Papialuk carved the occasional quirky sculpture but is best known as the most idiosyncratic and arguably the most innovative of Puvirnituq graphic artists. Like his colleague Joe Talirunnilik (1893?-1976), Papialuk was considered by his peers to be a rather eccentric person. But whereas Talirunnilik’s style was doggedly rustic, Papialuk’s was exuberantly and even flamboyantly oddball, especially from the mid-1970s when he began creating colourful felt pen drawings.
Papialuk’s unconventional approach to graphic art is apparent already in Going Hunting, one of his earliest stonecut prints. His trademark technique began as the graphic application of textures and vegetation patterns to his stone carvings and stonecut print blocks, but quickly evolved to include the representation of more intangible elements, such as atmospheric flow (wind direction, rain motion, snow systems) and even sounds, vibrations and thoughts. Here, we see not only shrubs and grasses but also the air currents caused by the beating of the bird’s wings. Papialuk’s joyous drawings and prints epitomize the strong folk art spirit that pervades much of Inuit art.