JOHN KAVIK (1897-1993), KANGIQLINIQ (RANKIN INLET)
Muskox, c. 1974-75
stone, 8.75 x 13.25 x 3.5 in (22.2 x 33.7 x 8.9 cm)
Estimate: $10,000— $15,000
Ex. Collection of Mr. Stanley and Mrs. Jean Zazelenchuk;
Waddington's Auctions, November 2013, Lot 113;
Acquired from the above by the present Private Collection, Toronto.
John Kavik is best known for his depictions of the human figure; books and museum catalogues illustrate virtually no other subjects by the artist. Kavik portrayed muskoxen in a few ceramics in the mid-late 1960s but it may be that he not create stone versions until the early 1970s. Kavik's carved depictions of muskoxen are not numerous but they were his favourite animal subjects, they figure prominently in his drawings (see next Lot). We would argue that the best examples are among his most important stone sculptures.
Stanley Zazelenchuk, the school principal in Rankin Inlet in the late 1970s who became an avid collector and friend of the artist, wrote:
…in Kavik's work I sense, not the capturing of a fleeting moment, but timelessness, an immortality … I recall especially a musk ox he carved - a stoic, stone image reaching back to man's beginning, echoing the cave art of Europe .
It's quite likely that Zazelenchuk was referring to this work, which he once owned.
Even more than his human subjects, Kavik's muskoxen are surprisingly varied. This Muskox is quite different in look and even in spirit from the first two important examples referenced below. It shares the sense of the archaic and the raw primal power of those works, and all three works could be said to possess a certain charm, our example has an unexpected sense of lightness despite its size, and almost a sense of whimsy. We find the treatment of the face and especially the horns delightful. Having decided not to add antler horns, Kavik chose to flip the tips of the horns up rather than down and forward; the overall effect is eccentric and really quite droll. Monumental, raw, and adorable - quite a potent combination!
1. Stanley Zazelenchuk, "Kavik: The Man and the Artist" in Arts & Culture of the North (Spring 1980: 219-221), p. 219.
References: For important stone muskoxen by Kavik see Walker's Auctions, Nov. 2016, Lot 17, and Nov. 2014, Lot 118. See other fine examples in Marion Scott Gallery, Vision and Form (Vancouver, 2003) p. 67; Bernadette Driscoll, Uumajut: Animal Imagery in Inuit Art (WAG, 1985) cat. 14. For depictions in ceramic see Walker's May 2013, Lot 137, and May 2017, Lot 85.