Untitled (Two Figures, Two Dogs and a Seal), c. 1961-63 graphite drawing, 24 x 19 in (61 x 48.3 cm)
This graphite drawing gives ample testimony to what Ingo Hessel describes as Parr’s interest in geometry and to what Hessel refers to as Parr’s “Period II” style dating from about 1961-63 . The two surprisingly large human figures are “constructed” with rectangular, oval, and triangular blocks formed by intersecting lines. Relatively abbreviated limbs sprout forth from the turtle shell-like torsos. Facial features are abstracted to the highly distinctive system of “dots and dashes” that Parr would employ for his entire artistic career. The animals are less geometrically composed, bisected only by horizontal lines that extend back from their jaw lines and may represent spines. Subtle visual cues allow us to discern the shape of a seal from that of a dog.
Unaware of our Western sense of perspective, Parr invented his own. The relative size of figures does not represent distance but rather importance. Unlike with many of Parr’s contemporaneous drawn images, in this remarkable and quite stunning drawing the humans take centre stage; full-bodied and monumental, the two hunters possibly celebrate the hunt or signal to their companions — or perhaps they simply celebrate the joy of being alive.
1. Ingo Hessel, “The Drawings of Parr: A Closer Look” in Inuit Art Quarterly, Fall 1988, pp. 14-20.