stone, 13.5 x 12.75 x 12.5 in (34.3 x 32.4 x 31.8 cm)
Estimate: $15,000 — $25,000
Innuit Gallery of Eskimo Art, Toronto;
Private Collection, Montreal.
Exhibited and Published
Art Gallery of Ontario, The People Within (Toronto: AGO, 1976), cat. 62. Kneeling Woman was one of nine sculptures by Iquliq chosen for this exhibition.
Razie Brownstone, "The Art of the Inuit" in Canadian Antiques and Art Review (April 1981), p. 29.
"Tuna Iquliq (Erkoolik) celebrates the individual in his moving and powerful sculptures. His people reach outward from the stone mass, demanding the emotional participation of the viewer" .
Kneeling Woman is one of the three truly outstanding Tuna Iquliq works from the landmark 1976 AGO exhibition The People Within; the other two, Kneeling Woman with Caribou Sleeves and Grappling Figures, are in the National Museum of History and National Gallery of Canada collections respectively. The woman's kneeling pose is not unusual; we are reminded of many classic works from Nunavik and from Baker Lake itself. But the rawness of the execution, combined with the massiveness of the stone itself, makes this a sculpture of astonishing power.
That the woman's head, and to a lesser extent her arms and hands, are carved with more precision and finish, seem only to emphasize the wonderful crudeness and immensity of her body and clothing. Even more remarkable are the beseeching gesture of her arms and the searching tilt of the woman's face. The feeling we get is almost one of religious supplication: Why me? What have I done? Please help me. Although Tuna's carving style is more brutal, we are reminded of the work and spirit of the German expressionist sculptor Ernst Barlach (1870-1938). A masterpiece.
1. Helga Goetz, "The Art of Baker Lake" in The People Within (AGO, 1976), unpaginated.
References: For nine early 1970s works by Iquliq see Art Gallery of Ontario, The People Within (Toronto: AGO, 1976), cats. 57-65. For early 1960s works by the artist see George Swinton, Sculpture of the Inuit (McClelland & Stewart, 1972/92), figs. 22, 23, 110, 666-672, and Winnipeg Art Gallery, Eskimo Carvers of Keewatin N.W.T. (1964) front cover and pp. 20, 21, 26. For a similarly large work by Iquliq, from the collection of former Governor General Edward Schreyer, see Bernadette Driscoll, The Inuit Amautik: I Like My Hood To Be Full (Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1980) cat. 25. For an important Head from c. 1964 see First Arts, May 2019, Lot 48.