AQJANGAJUK SHAA R.C.A. (1937-2019), E7-1065, Cape Dorset / Kinngait
ivory, stone and ink
14.5 x 6 x 4 in — 36.8 x 15.2 x 10.2 cm
Aqjangajuk is well known for his large, muscular and often contorted stone sculptures of animals and humans. His only early print, Wounded Caribou of 1961, is widely accepted to be a masterpiece, but he drew little at that time. Equally rare is this fascinating engraved tusk by the artist, an example of an art closely related to drawing, the art of ivory scrimshaw.
Typical Inuit scrimshaw work presents quite realistic displays of animal and human subjects in fine detail and in fairly static poses. This work is really quite different; in keeping with Aqjangajuk’s sculptural style, the tusk shows animals and spirits in lively but highly idiosyncratic stances. Most of the small figures are captured in full movement. Their quirkiness and inventiveness makes us wish all the more that this artist had created more drawings.
References: for a detail of a similarly engraved tusk by the artist in the Sarick Collection at the AGO see George Swinton, Eskimo Sculpture/Sculpture Esquimaude (McClelland & Stewart, 1965), p. 185 or Swinton’s Sculpture of the Inuit (McClelland & Stewart, 1972/92), fig. 477.
First Arts: Inuit & First Nations Art Auction www.firstarts.ca
a Montreal collection; Harry and Marcia Klamer Collection, Toronto