JUDAS ULLULAQ (1937-1999)
Private Collection, Toronto, ON
Judas Ullulaq lived in the traditional Inuit way until the 1960's when he settled in Taloyoak, Nunavut, with his family. Like many other Inuk artists at this time, he began to produce carvings as an alternative source of income. Ullulaq’s stone carvings often feature highly expressionistic facial gestures, bodily movements, and natural materials such an antler and ivory. His peculiar characters and beings, with all their inflated emotions, appear to burst out of the stone sheath that contains them.
In this work, Musk Ox and Young, Ullulaq represents the close relationship between generations of musk ox and its significance to the Inuit people. The Inuit name for musk ox is omingmak, meaning “animal with skin like a beard.” For many centuries, they have been hunted by the Inuit for their meat, skin, and horns, which are then fashioned into various survival instruments and weaponry. Beyond this, musk ox carry spiritual meaning to the Inuit in that their physical power and resilience to harsh living conditions symbolize strength and survival.
Musk Ox and Young pays homage to this valuable source of sustenance while acting as a metaphor for the importance of strong familial relationships
Matthew Ryan Smith, Ph.D., is the Curator and Head of Collections at Glenhyrst Art Gallery in Brantford, Ontario.