PAUTA SAILA, R.C.A. (1916-2009) m., KINNGAIT (CAPE DORSET)
Dancing Bear, c. early 1990s
stone and antler, 20.25 x 18 x 9.25 in (51.4 x 45.7 x 23.5 cm)
signed, "ᐸᐅᑕ / ᓴᐃᓚ".
Estimate: $65,000 — $85,000
Private Collection, Montreal;
by descent to the Current Owner.
Pauta Saila was considered something of a "bear whisperer." Pauta respected and loved bears but apparently did not fear them, nor they him; there is a famous story in Cape Dorset about the elderly Pauta feeding a polar bear that had wandered into town. For Pauta, carving polar bears was practically a vocation; he poured his heart and soul into his art, and it showed in his work.
I like to carve what I feel, not merely what I see. It is the feeling that goes along with whatever one is doing… I think and feel that the bear has a spirit to be put into the carving .
Pauta was dedicated not only to his art but also to his craft. He did not take short cuts, but worked slowly, steadily and conscientiously:
I like to use axes when they are properly sharpened. I don't like using grinders because they tend to take away too much of the stone. Then I use rasps, followed by files - always working towards finer and finer tools. I file only forward, not back and forth, just one stroke at a time .
Astonishingly, this magnificent bear was carved when Pauta was about seventy-five years old. We are amazed that he could even lift the stone let alone carve it to perfection and breathe life into it. Pauta would carve steadily for more than another decade, but we are not sure how many large, important pieces he produced beyond this one.
1. Pauta Saila interviewed by George Swinton in Bernadette Driscoll, Uumajut (Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1985), p. 46.
2. The artist interviewed in 1998 in Susan Gustavison, Northern Rock (McMichael, 1999), p. 63.
References: For similarly large and important examples by the artist, see Ingo Hessel, Inuit Art: An Introduction (Douglas & McIntyre, 1998) cover and fig. 102, from 1984 in the Sarick Collection, AGO (also illus. in Gerald McMaster ed., Inuit Modern, 2010), p. 116; Bernadette Driscoll, Uumajut: Animal Imagery in Inuit Art (WAG, 1985) cat. 1, TD Bank Collection (also illus. in CEAC, Sculpture/Inuit, 1971, fig. 158); Susan Gustavison, Northern Rock: Contemporary Inuit Stone Sculpture (Kleinburg: McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 1999) cat. 8. See also Marion Scott Gallery, Inspiration (1996) cat. 23. See also Walker's Auctions, Nov. 2017, Lot 62; May 2013, Lot 15; May 2012, Lot 24. See Waddington's Auctions May 2016, Lot 40; Apr. 2007, Lot 79.