Audain Art Museum reopens with two new Arctic-based exhibitions featuring exquisite drawings by Itee Pootoogook and distinct photographs by Louie Palu
WHISTLER, BC, June 10, 2021 – This summer, the Audain Art Museum is thrilled to present two new compelling exhibitions that offer unique perspectives on the Arctic. Open to the public on Thursday, June 10, Itee Pootogook: Hymns to the Silence provides an intimate look at Inuit life and the landscape of Nunavut. Guest curated by Dr. Nancy Campbell, the exhibition is the first full-scale retrospective of Itee Pootogook and gathers over 60 coloured pencil and graphite drawings on paper.
A key member of the third generation of Inuit artists from Kinngait (Cape Dorset), the late Itee Pootoogook (1951-2014) began his practice in drawing, animation and carving in the 1970s. Eventually becoming involved in the renowned West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative at Kinngait Studios, the longest continuously running print studio in Canada, Itee contributed to the transformation of creative traditions pioneered by artists such as Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013) and Pitseolak Ashoona (c.1904-1983).
Known as a meticulous draftsperson and inventive landscapist, Itee looked primarily to contemporary life for his subject matter, rather than a nostalgic past. Although some compositions were produced from a combination of memory and imagination, Itee based many of his drawings on photographs, an aspect of his artistic process that further juxtaposes tradition with contemporaneity.
The title of the exhibition, Hymns to the Silence, a nod to singer-songwriter Van Morrison’s album of the same name, underlines the muted strength of Itee’s subject matter. These understated images celebrate the ordinary moments and things that make up everyday existence. Itee Pootoogook was a quiet observer of his community, which is inherent in the simple yet pensive nature of his works.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully bilingual (English and Inuktitut) publication, which includes texts by Campbell as well as responses to Itee’s work from prominent contemporary artists and art historians.
Complementing Hymns to the Silence, Louie Palu: Distant Early Warning is a testament to award-winning photographer Louie Palu’s outstanding career, which has included projects for the New York Times, the BBC and Der Spiegl. From 2015 to 2018, what began for Palu as a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship evolved into an assignment for National Geographic magazine. The resulting photographs are showcased in Distant Early Warning, providing a window into the evolving militarization of the North American Arctic, documenting the vestigial legacies of the Cold War and the increased military presence in the North today. Taken as a whole, this distinct series of images examines the growing geopolitical tensions and changing life in one of the planet’s most extreme climates.
“The Itee Pootoogook and Louie Palu exhibitions combined offer a rare opportunity for Museum visitors to experience the multi-faceted cultural and political realities of the Arctic,” explains Dr. Curtis Collins, Director & Chief Curator of the Audain Art Museum.
Both exhibitions were organized and circulated by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario and are on display at the Audain Art Museum from June 10 until September 6, 2021.
About the Audain Art Museum
Established in 2016, the Audain Art Museum was founded upon a major philanthropic gift of Michael Audain and Yoshiko Karasawa. The Museum’s Permanent Collection is focused on the art of British Columbia, including an outstanding collection of historic Indigenous masks, a comprehensive selection of paintings by Emily Carr and a brilliant range of works by Vancouver’s photo-conceptualists. In addition, the Museum hosts temporary exhibitions that feature artists and collections of national and international significance.
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