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Ooloosie Saila

Composition (Water, Ice and Mountains)


Ooloosie Saila
Born in Iqaluit, Nunavut, in 1991Active in Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Nunavut


Composition (Water, Ice and Mountains)




Coloured pencil over traces of felt pen


126.5 x 137.7 cm (approx.)


Purchase, Christiane and Félix J. Furst Fund, inv. 2018.16


Graphic Arts

Ooloosie Saila’s artwork shows a renewed interest in using abstraction to depict epic Arctic landscapes, in this case the mountainous terrain in and around her community of Cape Dorset, or Kinngait, which means “high mountain” in Inuktitut. In recent years, photorealistic drawings have dominated the graphic arts at Kinngait Studios. Unlike many other graphic artists in her community, Saila deliberately eschews the use of photography to produce her work. Choosing instead to draw from her memory and imagination, she creates heavily stylized imagery, trading straight lines and careful shading for curvy organic forms built up from flat, colour-blocked shapes. Here, these forms, which are flanked above and below by mirroring motifs evoking the sky and the sea, appear to bulge out of the picture plane. The large scale of the drawing helps to emphasize the vastness of the northern landscape. In these respects, this composition calls to mind the large, abstract landscape drawings that first-generation Cape Dorset artist Ohotaq Mikkigaq (1936-2014) produced late in his career.

European artists have taken inspiration from the beauty of the Arctic for hundreds of years, usually portraying it as awe-inspiring yet barren and alien, almost completely inhospitable to human life. Inuit artists, such as Saila, offer a vastly different, intimate perspective of Inuit Nunangat (Inuit regions of Canada) as a nurturing homeland full of vitality and abundance.

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