Kenojuak Ashevak: Endless Imagination

21 January - 21 February 2020

Complementary to the touring exhibition Kenojuak Ashevak: Life and Legacy, which opened at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon on January 17, First Arts is pleased to present a selection of outstanding prints by the artist that are available for immediate purchase. 

 

Much has have been written about Kenojuak, rightfully heralding her as a star of Canadian art.  An active artist for 54 years, her home in Kinngait proved to be fertile ground for her artistic pursuits.  In her 2008 address, on the occasion of Kenojuak’s acceptance of the Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts, my colleague, Pat Feheley, poignantly told the audience, “Only those who know it and who draw it understand the colour in the Arctic landscape.”  Pat continued, “And only those who have lived in that landscape could find the means to translate its spirit into art.”

 

For over half a century, Kenojuak contributed graphic works to the Cape Dorset co-op that captured her vibrant and emotive response to her environment.  Her themes and style are particular and easily recognizable — the subject matter of arctic figures and settings are presented with an emphasis on design and form.  Kenojuak’s unparalleled draughtsmanship, when coupled with the outstanding printers at the Dorset studio, saw the creation of imaginative and inspired, flowing, sometimes fantastical scenes, of Canada's Arctic that retain all the joy of direct experience.

 

A sampling of the artist’s prolific output is featured in this online exhibition.  The works in this show are in outstanding restorative condition and have been in the same private collection since their acquisitions were made in their respective release years.   We encourage your inquiry at info@firstarts.ca or by telephone at 647-286-5012.

 

To read more about Kenojuak Ashevak: Life and Legacy, put together by the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative, along with Kinngait Arts Foundation, and the Kenojuak Cultural Centre, please visit this website.

 



  

Kenojuak Ashevak As Remembered by Pat Feheley

On January 8, 2013, Kenojuak Ashevak passed away. She died, as she had wished, in her home, peacefully in her sleep. And with her went a shining light that had graced the world for 85 long years.

 

It was my privilege to have known Kenojuak for more than half of those years and, like so many, to have been touched by her. I had the honour of being asked by her family to speak at her funeral in Cape Dorset. It was difficult to find the words that would capture how, from her first drawings done in the late 1950s to those completed at the end of her life, she dazzled and delighted us through her joyous works of art.   

 

Kenojuak’s endless imagination and innovation is readily apparent in this survey exhibition of her prints. Ranging from stonecut to lithograph to etching and aquatint, these prints attest to her mastery of the graphic image. She was always willing to experiment with new techniques, such as the sugar lift prints which involved her participation in the creation of printing plates.

 

Also evident in this exhibition is the range of Kenojuak’s subject matter. While the owl is the most recognizable of her motifs, many of these prints feature others: ravens, fish, imaginary creatures, and swirling animal forms. 

 

The sheer number of works Kenojuak created during her lifetime indicate not only her passion and visual imagination, but also her hard work and a dedication to art. Perhaps her greatest legacy is the motivation and inspiration she provided for an array of dynamic younger artists working today in Cape Dorset. 

 

I met Kenojuak when I was in my teens, on my first trip to Cape Dorset. Over the years we became close, not able to speak each other’s languages but nevertheless, sharing experiences and fun in both the north and the south. She stayed with me in Toronto and I was a constant visitor to her home in Cape Dorset. I was one of the lucky ones who was able to see not only the breathtaking beauty of her art, but to experience her warmth, her sense of humour, her humanity, and her infinite love for life and those of us around her. Kenojuak’s spirit lives on in her magnificent body of work.