It has often been noted that Inuit have traditionally considered bears to be their chief rivals as Arctic hunters, formidable foes on the land and ice, and powerful helping spirits. One could say that bears are thought of essentially as equals. Artists such as Pauta Saila of Cape Dorset have come to be thought of almost as “bear whisperers,” known for their intimate knowledge of the animals and frequently depicting bears and bear families in human-like poses and situations.
Tigullaraq plays with this idea and takes it to a hilarious new level. This man and bear are companions, chums even. The bear extends its left “arm” to embrace its friend in an amiable embrace, as if introducing him to us. Note that the artist has portrayed the two comrades as equal in both size and body proportions. The bear’s upper body seems positively svelte compared to its lower half, which mirrors the blocky look of the man’s legs and feet. The image is at once comical and surprisingly touching.
Published: Maria Von Finckenstein, “Salomonie Tigullaraq: One of those Unnoticed Artists,” (Inuit Art Quarterly, Winter 2001), p. 38.