Printmaker: PITSEOLAK NIVIAQSI, R.C.A. (1947-2015) m., KINNGAIT (CAPE DORSET)
Song of Spring, Spring 2006 #1
lithograph diptych, overall: 33.25 x 46 in (84.5 x 116.8 cm), each sheet: 33.25 x 23 in (84.5 x 58.4 cm)
Estimate: $5,000— $8,000
Private Collection, Australia.
This ambitious and stunning work brings to mind two other important lithograph diptychs by Kenojuak: Nunavut (Our Land) of 1992, a special commission (in an edition of 3) made to commemorate the signing of the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut Settlement Agreement in Iqaluit in 1993; and Silavut, Nunavut (Our Environment, Our Land), a special release from Spring 1999 celebrating the birth of the new Territory of Nunavut. All three diptychs were brilliantly executed by the master printmaker Pitseolak Niviaqsi.
Interestingly, all three prints use circular imagery that symbolize the earth itself, the seasons, and the universal themes of regeneration and the cycle of life. Song of Spring omits the more literal terrestrial and celestial iconography seen in the earlier two works, concentrating on the animals themselves. The most extraordinary aspect of the image is Kenojuak's transformation of the circular into the spherical. The birds and wolves do not flow in a circular pattern; rather their shapes morph to cover the surface of an orb, even as they flow one into the other. The effect is positively hallucinatory.
John Westren beautifully describes the intensity of Kenojuak's imagination at this point in her life: "The mid-1990s through 2005 would see a revitalized Kenojuak Ashevak. This period was one of the most fertile, ambitious, and prolific of her career. I don't know what influences in Kenojuak's life might have encouraged this fecundity so late in her life, but I suspect that the rejuvenated printmaking program itself played no small part…The results of seeing her work writ large and in glorious Technicolor must have had an envigorating effect on her creative process…[S]he would move into works of movement and tremendous kinetic energy and on into dynamic large-scale prints that are more like paintings .
1. John A. Westren, "Toward the Millennium" in Leslie Boyd Ryan, Cape Dorset Prints: A Retrospective (San Francisco: Pomegranate, 2007), p. 261.
References: This diptych is reproduced in Leslie Boyd Ryan, Cape Dorset Prints: A Retrospective (San Francisco: Pomegranate, 2007), p. 286. The 1999 diptych Silavut, Nunavut is also reproduced, p. 232. Kenojuak's special commission Nunavut (Our Land) of 1992 is reproduced in Odette Leroux et al ed., Inuit Women Artists: Voices from Cape Dorset (Douglas & McIntyre/Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1994), p. 111.