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Inuit Artists to Watch For at Art Toronto

Oct 27, 2022
by IAQ

Art Toronto, the annual event billed as “Canada’s Art Fair,” is back this weekend from October 27 to 30. Following a hybrid in-person/virtual presentation last year, the 2022 fair is all in-person, hosting more than 90 galleries from across the globe featuring the work of more than 150 artists. 

Art Toronto has been dedicated to supporting art in Canada since the inaugural fair in 2000, and every year you can find exciting contemporary and legacy pieces by Inuit artists. This year, visitors to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre will be introduced to Inuit artists spanning generations and working in a great variety of media, with new screen-based works alongside carvings by 20th-century masters and new textiles referencing precious items housed in museums. 

One important annual aspect of the show is the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)’s acquisition program, which in the past has seen works from the likes of Shuvinai Ashoona, RCA, Itee Pootoogook and Annie Pootoogook acquired for the AGO’s permanent collection.

Let IAQ be your guide to discovering Inuit art at this year’s fair. And don’t forget to tag your photos #InuitArtToronto!

Feheley Fine Arts


Piqutiapiit (2022) Installation view
Courtesy McCord Stewart Museum © the artist

During her time as artist-in-residence at the McCord Museum, Montreal-based multidisciplinary artist Niap spent time with the “precious belongings”—or piqutiapiit—held there, including savviqutik, the beaded decorations that adorn the front of Inuit women’s clothing. She reflected on how even the everyday clothing and practical objects created using simple tools exhibited stunning workmanship and exquisite design. In her new work Piqutiapiit, on display in the Feheley booth, Niap interprets these aesthetics through an exquisite embroidered and beaded tapestry, referencing the amauti and the savviqutik. 

This year Feheley is also showcasing an innovative new teapot from Michael Massie, CM, RCA, titled Odd-it-tea (2022), as well as an edition of four pieces from Mark Igloliorte—fresh off his smash installation at Nuit Blanche Toronto—titled NUNAVIK (Picking Berries) (2022), with each edition containing four skateboards. You’ll also find new works by Saimaiyu Akesuk, Ooloosie Saila, Shuvinai Ashoona, Quvianaqtuk Pudlat, Qavavau Manumie and others.

Marion Scott Gallery


Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory
in collaboration with Jamie Griffiths Kiinamit Kiinamut (still) (2016) Video installation 4 min 18 sec, edition of 3
Courtesy Marion Scott Gallery © the artist

The heart of MSG’s installation of newer and older works is Shuvinai Ashoona’s Help Us, a floating collection of drawings draped balloon-like to form three-dimensional geometric shapes, hanging like mobiles and ranging from huge to tiny. Backed by large-scaled recent works on paper, the installation, which sold to an unidentified buyer right before the event, features Ashoona’s surreal, cosmic graphic imagery, described by MSG as “metaphorical warnings that time may be running out for humanity amid environmental ruin and other imminent threats.” 

Adding to the contemporary imagery in this booth are video- and performance-based works by Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, winner of the Sobey Art Award and 2018 Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award, in collaboration with their frequent artistic partner, Jamie Griffiths. Timiga, Nunalu Sikulu (My body, the land and the ice) (2016) examines Inuit relationship to the land from a feminist and decolonizing perspective, while in Kiinamit Kiinamut (Face to Face) (2016), Williamson Bathory paints her face in preparation for uaajeerneq, a form of Greenlandic mask dancing. The videos are accompanied by a large-format print titled Silaup Putunga Iluani (2022, translated as “inside the universe’s hole”), in which Williamson Bathory appears wearing black mesh, lingerie and fur, face painted and grimacing in a pose of strength and power on the ice and snow.

In dialogue with themes in these contemporary works are sculptures in stone and bone from well-known masters including Amidlak (1897–1961), John Kavik, Andy Miki, Nick Sikkuark (1943–2013) and Lucy Tasseor as well as prints and drawings from Qavavau Manumie and Kananginak Pootoogook, RCA, and a textile work from Janet Nungnik.

Norberg Hall


Red Ookpik with Harness (2022) 3.75 x 3.75 x 6.5 in Dyed sealskin, felt, fibre fill, embroidery floss, leather, hardware
Courtesy Norberg Hall © the artist

Last year the Calgary-based gallery brought a couple of fuzzy friends to Art Toronto: two cheeky pink ookpiks created by Inuvialuk artist Kablusiak. Furby Ookpik and Plucked Ookpik (2021) have been busy since selling at the 2021 fair, appearing in the IAQ’s Spring 2022 issue Break Up and as the subject of a massive mural greeting visitors to the Ontario College of Art And Design University’s Onsite Gallery. 

Kablusiak will be in attendance at the Norberg Hall booth along with a new friend, Red Ookpik with Harness (2022), and two other works that disrupt expectations of Inuit art: the soapstone Ball Gag (2022) and the provocative velvet-framed Nuyaq II (2022).

On Sunday at 2 PM, don’t miss Kablusiak in conversation with Anishinabe beadworking artist Nico Williams, an on-stage discussion moderated by Cheryl Sim, Managing Director and Curator at Fondation PHI pour l’art contemporain. 

Olga Korper Gallery


Katherine Takpannie
Autumn Peltier #3 (2020) Archival pigment print, edition of 3 36 x 54 in
Courtesy Olga Korper © the artist

Right on the heels of her successful inaugural solo show at Toronto’s Olga Korper Gallery, Ottawa artist Katherine Takpannie’s photograph Autumn Peltier #3 (2020) from her show REFLECT | ᕿᒥᕐᕈᒋᐊᕐᓂᖅ will be on display at the Olga Korper booth. Takpannie’s work is a unique expression of urban Indigeneity that engages with the values of her ancestors. 

The image of an Indigenous woman dressed in a ribbon skirt, traditional to First Nations rather than Inuit, is a testament to the connectivity between Indigenous women, particularly calling attention to the need for social justice action relating to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People across the country. 

Takpannie has explored similar themes of bodily femininity and autonomy in her work at the National Gallery of Canada’s exhibition Movement: Expressive Bodies in Art (running until February 26, 2023). 

Patel Brown


Shuvinai Ashoona
Untitled 148-1608 (2011) Felt pen on paper 49.5 x 64.8 cmReproduced with permission Dorset Fine Arts Courtesy Patel Brown © the artist

You may have noticed by now that Shuvinai Ashoona has a large presence at Art Toronto 2022. The celebrated Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU–based graphic artist’s work appears in several booths, consistent with her strong reception in Canada and around the world. Ashoona’s complex, urgent work offers a connection between worlds and realities, planets and universes, including a careful construction of the everyday. At the Patel Brown booth, visitors will encounter untitled Ashoona works on paper, including Untitled 148-1608, that offer a different view of the themes that run throughout her recent work.

Focus Exhibition: held open


Maureen Gruben
 Annivik: Assemblage 4 (2021) Cable, sinew, ookpik Dimensions variable
Courtesy Cooper Cole © the artist

This year, Art Toronto is broadening its own curatorial vision for the show, offering a series of specialized booths led by a team of international female curators under the leadership of director Mia Nielsen. The keystone exhibition is held open, a 1,200-square-foot space curated by Canadian Marie-Charlotte Carrier, who is currently based at the Hayward Gallery in London, UK. Combining contemporary and historic works from various participating Art Toronto galleries, Carrier has assembled a selection of art that speaks to the different ways we relate to other humans and non-humans. 

Inuvialuk artist Maureen Gruben’s Annivik, named after a bilingual exit sign Gruben recovered from the Tuktuuyaqtuuq landfill, is a set of sculptural assemblages created from materials found there. These works examine physical transitions, consumerism and waste, assembled with the humorous insight for which Gruben is known. Can you play Spot the Ookpik?

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