JOSIAH NUILAALIK (1928-2005)
a Toronto private collection
One of Jessie Oonark’s two surviving sons, Nuilaalik carved infrequently until the mid 1980s then quickly forged a reputation as one of Baker Lake’s most imaginative sculptors, renowned for both his spirit and shamanic imagery and the fluid, organic, smoothly rounded forms of his works. Nuilaalik’s gift was his ability to effortlessly blur the physical distinctions between human and animal bodies of various species. One of his greatest transformation sculptures, titled Wolf-Wasp Transformation of 1996, is truly a work of genius (see Hessel, Arctic Spirit, Heard, 2006, fig. 66 or Walker’s Nov. 2015, Lot 18).
Like many of Nuilaalik’s hybrid creatures and shamans, Caribou/Bear Shaman gazes skyward. Even the design of the artist’s trademark antlers adds to the sculpture’s shape-shifting, otherworldly aspect.
Reference: for several similar and related works by Nuilaalik see Marion Scott Gallery, Two Great Image Makers from Baker Lake (Vancouver, 1999). See also Walker’s Nov. 2012, Lot 80.
First Arts: Inuit & First Nations Art Auction www.firstarts.ca