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"Close-Ups: Prints and Drawings by PUDLO PUDLAT"
2000-12-15 until 2001-04-16
National Gallery of Canada
Ottawa, ON, CA

Pudlo Pudlat's childhood experiences with drawing were inside an igloo, making images on snow walls and ice windows. Around 1960, as an adult living in the settlement of Cape Dorset, Pudlo began to draw again, this time on paper, as part of that community's growing arts program. When he died in 1992, Pudlo left an oeuvre of more than 4,000 drawings and 200 prints. Today, he remains as one of Canada's most celebrated and intriguing Inuit artists. Close-Ups: Prints and Drawings by Pudlo Pudlat is an installation of 18 works from the National Gallery's permanent collection.

Pudlo Pudlat (1916-1992) used drawing as a means of thinking on paper. Those thoughts frequently explored the themes of architecture, technology and transportation as they related to the changing North. However, even at the earliest stages of his career, Pudlo's tendency to treat an idea through a series of images also took another route; many of his drawings and prints focus as much on matters of design and composition as on the narrative content.

This mini-exhibition includes: Avingaluk (The Big Lemming), 1961, a bold silhouette-like image that was one of Pudlo's first published prints, and Bird with Playing-card Design (c. 1963-1965) which was inspired by the graphics of playing cards, imported items which were acquired by Inuit during the fur trade of the early 1900s. Musk-ox, Frontal View (c. 1970) is one of the many interpretations of the shaggy creatures that fascinated Pudlo when he encountered them on trips to northern Quebec and the High Arctic. Enlarged, flattened and cropped under the artist's hand, musk-oxen become even more amazing. Loons and swans also figure prominently in Pudlo's work. Ship of Loons (1982-83) demonstrates Pudlo's wonderful sense of humour as he portrays birds riding in boats. As seen in the evolution of his drawings, forms such as the musk-ox and the loon no longer needed to be centred on the page. Pudlo adds a sense of snap-shot immediacy, or even mystery, by cutting off his figures, sometimes as if they were literally walking on or off the page. Finally, Composition with Caribou and Bird (1983-84), a combination print and drawing that was conceived in various versions, is one of Pudlo's most abstracted images.

A survey of Inuit art, including primarily sculpture and prints, is on view in the four adjacent galleries to Close-Ups: Prints and Drawings by Pudlo Pudlat. This larger installation of some 75 works starts with recent sculpture from the last decade and features two loans from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development: Mattiusi Iyaituk's, The Thigh of Caribou with Bits of Fat, 1992 and James Ungalaq's, Atanaajuat, 1996. The installation then moves to past years, presenting works from the permanent collection in regional and historical groupings to highlight the work of artists from Nunavik (Quebec), Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin Island), and Kivalliq (the Keewatin), among others.


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