JOHN TIKTAK, R.C.A. (1916-1981) KANGIQLINIQ (RANKIN INLET)
Composition with Many Faces, 1974
stone, 12 x 6.5 x 6 in (30.5 x 16.5 x 15.2 cm)
Estimate: $25,000 — $35,000
Acquired from the artist by Stanley Zazelenchuk Collection, St. Andrews, N.B.;
Waddington's, Dec. 1982, Lot 396 (front cover illustration);
Private Collection, Ottawa.
Exhibited and Published
Jean Blodgett, The Zazelenchuk Collection of Eskimo Art (Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1978) cat. 105.
Tiktak as a man and as an artist…had a quiet and austere power that often was the strongest of them all, using tension with his discipline of line and volume to evoke intensity of feeling, simple insight and a stark and sad humanity that strikes upon the heart.
Tiktak's earliest known multiple-head composition, Family in the Swinton Collection at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, dates from 1962 , but the artist probably carved his first true cluster of heads and faces c. 1967. This imagery soon became a favourite subject.  This magnificent work is unquestionably one of Tiktak's finest renditions of the theme. Although only about one-third the size of the famous Heads Emerging from Stone in the National Museum of History collection, Composition with Many Faces is easily as monumental. As with that sculpture, the heads here are evenly sized; however, they are more densely packed, and overall the composition seems more unified and ordered. And unlike another comparable work in the Klamer Collection at the AGO, the eight heads here look fully formed. Rather than simply emerging from the stone matrix, they each thrust outwards as if trying to escape the confines of the material. One can almost hear their cries. It's eerie, compelling, and totally awesome.
1. Robert G. Williamson, "An Arctic Gathering" in Norman Zepp (1987) p. 7 (see references).
2. Family is illustrated in Bernadette Driscoll, Rankin Inlet/Kangirlliniq (WAG, 1981) cat. 49.
3. George Swinton's 1970 landmark solo exhibition catalogue illustrates four examples dated 1967 to 1969 and lists three more; see Tiktak: Sculptor from Rankin Inlet, N.W.T. (Winnipeg: Gallery One-One-One, Univ. of Manitoba, 1970).
References: For a quite similar composition by Tiktak see Norman Zepp, The Williamson Collection of Inuit Sculpture (Regina: Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, 1987) cat. 79. Perhaps Tiktak's largest version of this theme is Heads Emerging from Stone from c. 1967 in the Canadian Museum of History collection, illustrated in George Swinton, Sculpture of the Inuit (1972/92), figs. 146 and 655; for other similar imagery in the same publication see figs. 649, 651 and 656. See also Ingo Hessel, Inuit Art: An Introduction (Douglas & McIntyre, 1998), fig. 76; Jean Blodgett, Grasp Tight the Old Ways (AGO, 1983) cat. 147; and Gerald McMaster ed., Inuit Modern (Toronto: AGO, 2010), p. 127.