In her article “Osuitok Ipeelee” in Alma Houston’s Inuit Art: An Anthology, Jean Blodgett observed that Osuitok’s portrayals of women far outnumbered those of men. She elaborated: “His representations of the female range from portrait busts with delicate facial features, long eyelashes, pert noses, and elaborate braids, to the buxom figures if his fisherwomen. He pays tribute to the Inuit woman’s ability to fish, sew and care for children, and he frankly admires their physical form” (p. 46).
We think it is quite likely that many if not most of Osuitok’s portrayals of women are not simply idealized portrayals but actual portraits. We know for example that he carved at least one portrait of Kenojuak Ashevak, whom he had greatly admired as a young man. This sculpture, although carved in relatively broad forms, is a particularly beautiful and sensitive portrait of a young woman pausing to rest from her daily chores.
Ex. Coll, Mr. Paul Duval, Toronto.
Mr. Paul Duval was a distinguished art critic, journalist, author, and friend of the Canadian art community. Recognized as an authority in Canadian art, Mr. Duval wrote publications on many of Canada's foremost artists, including,The Tangled Garden, the Art of J. E. H. MacDonald (1978), A. J. Casson, His Life & Works: A Tribute (1980), and Lawren Harris: Where the Universe Sings (2011). In addition to his writings on the Group of Seven, Mr. Duval championed lesser known artists, such as Ken Danby and Helen McNicoll and brought to them national recognition.
Robert and Signe McMichael purchased Lawren Harris's Montreal River at the suggestion of Mr. Duval. When the couple transformed their private residence into a public gallery in 1966, Mr. Duval wrote their first exhibition catalogue. As the years passed, Mr. Duval would continue to contribute to the McMichael's publications, including writings on the Inuit and First Nations artists and artworks in the collection.
A savvy and astute collector in his own right, in the 1970s, Mr. Duval loaned two works from his collection to the exhibition Sculpture/Inuit: Sculpture of the Inuit: Masterworks of the Canadian Arctic, which travelled throughout North America before heading to Russia and Europe. In 1972/3, Mr. Duval penned the introduction for the Toronto Dominion Bank's travelling exhibition of their Inuit art collection. For his contribution to this publication, Mr. Duval wrote, "The Eskimos [sic] of Canada have created compelling sculptures for more than 2,000 years [...] It was not until the past quarter of a century that the almost miraculous flowering of Canadian Eskimo [sic] art as we know it today occurred."
This kind of accessible, insightful language was a hallmark of Mr. Duval's writing. Always coming out with beautiful phrases that would stop you in your tracks.