Annie Pootoogook was the daughter of Cape Dorset graphic artist Napachie Pootoogook (1938-2002) and the granddaughter of the renowned Pitseolak Ashoona (1904-1983). Like the drawings by her mother and grandmother, Annie Pootoogook’s art is largely autobiographical. But Annie was born only in 1969, and in the community of Cape Dorset, so her “autobiography” is by necessity modern and village-oriented, and seasoned with social commentary.
Annie Pootoogook began making art in 1997 and quickly made a name for herself through her original drawings rather than through her prints. Her mostly interior domestic scenes create a fascinating and challenging blend of conflicting feelings: intimacy and voyeurism; the cool and the emotionally charged; the banal and the disturbing. The artist’s association with the Feheley Fine Arts gallery in Toronto led to a solo show at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery and a Sobey Art Award in 2006, and international acclaim soon followed. Sadly, the artist ended up living on the streets in Ottawa, where she died under mysterious circumstances in 2016.
Stylistically, Annie Pootoogook’s drawings are probably most influenced by those of her uncle Kananginak Pootoogook (1935-2010), except that she depicted the present, not the recent past. Her documentary style sometimes feels almost like an exhibitionist “reality TV” approach: Annie’s life takes place in the kitchen (at the fridge or listening to the radio), on the living room floor (making tea or watching TV), in the bedroom (making love). In this drawing, we see Annie wearing a sweatshirt and jeans and sporting a ponytail, making tea not in a canvas tent but on the floor of her prefab house. Southern viewers see not themselves but a hybrid modern Inuit reality, as depicted through the analytical lens of the artist.