BARNABUS ARNASUNGAAQ (1924-2017)
a Toronto collection
Barnabus Arnasungaaq is Baker Lake’s most famous sculptor, renowned chiefly for his portrayals of muskoxen: large or small; massively crude or delicately polished; solitary or combined with human subjects. His name is inextricably linked with his favourite subject; a “Barnabus muskox” is as widely recognized as a “Pauta bear.” Like Pauta’s, Arnasungaaq’s career spanned six decades; almost like a man possessed, he carved until the year he died.
Shaman and Two Muskoxen makes a powerful sculptural statement for its very scale and heft as well as through its imagery. The shaman and his two spirit familiars form one massive unit that is literally indivisible. Perhaps at first you might perceive two muskoxen framing a floating human face. Close your eyes and look again, and you suddenly see an enormous human figure whose “wings” are actually muskoxen. The animals’ shaggy fur now doubles as feathers for the owl-like shaman. Terrific.
References: for a quite similar composition by fellow Baker Lake sculptor Mathew Aqigaaq see Walker’s Nov. 2014, Lot 85. For related imagery by Arnasungaaq see Walker’s Nov. 2014, Lot 59; Nov. 2017, Lot 65.
First Arts: Inuit & First Nations Art Auction www.firstarts.ca