antler, graphite, sinew, and wood, 8.75 x 28.5 x 19.5 in (22.2 x 72.4 x 49.5 cm)
Estimate: $6,000 — $9,000
Private Collection, Ottawa.
Born at the Ahiarmiut (Caribou Inuit) camp at Ennadai Lake and already carving there occasionally in the 1950s, Luke Anowtalik became one of Arviat's most important artists, well known for his carved stone depictions of family groups and people and animals. He began carving relatively complex caribou antler compositions as early as 1970. Antler seemed to bring out both the whimsical and the spiritual sides of his nature; Anowtalik's profound connection with the caribou is evident in his late pencil drawings as well. Towards the end of his life Anowtalik carved almost exclusively in antler, creating a series of major works that are more festive than narrative; they usually depict imaginary groupings of humans, birds, caribou and other animals. In contrast with the sobriety of antler sculptures by Luke Iksiktaaryuk of Baker Lake (see Lot 21) Composition with People and Animals has a light-hearted, magical quality that is truly captivating. The tableau is arranged so that the figures almost seem like the performers in a play; one of the actors is even taking a bow! We sometimes wonder if Anowtalik had a secret supply of pixie dust that he would sprinkle on his favourite creations. Enchanting.
References: For similar antler compositions by Anowtalik see Walker's Auctions, Nov. 2015, Lot 118; and Feheley Fine Arts, Arviat Originals (Toronto, 2005), fig. 28. See also expandinginuit.com (American private collection website). For an early (1970) antler composition in the collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery see George Swinton, Sculpture of the Inuit (Toronto: M&S, 1972/92), fig. 592.