With a vision that is at once highly personal
and often politically subversive, Cape Dorset’s
Jutai Toonoo is a dynamic voice in contemporary
Inuit art and in Canadian art more generally.
Born in 1959, Toonoo belongs to the first generation
of Inuit to grow up in permanent year-round settlements
as opposed to small seasonal camps. He learned
to carve by watching his father, Toonoo Toonoo,
a respected leader and first-generation carver.
Nevertheless, Jutai’s work bears little
resemblance to other Cape Dorset sculpture, eschewing
such standard subjects as wildlife and mythological
figures. He is perhaps best known for his boldly
formed sculptures of human heads, which he renders
as though lost in a kind of agitated sleep. Many
of Toonoo’s sculptures bear witty or satirical
inscriptions of text carved in English directly
onto the stone’s surface. In recent years,
he has become an active participant in Cape Dorset
Co-op’s drawing and printmaking program,
producing a series of drawings of human heads
and portraits in a semi-abstract style that combines
a haunted expressionism with cartoon-like renderings.
Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto, ON)
National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa, ON)
Laurence, "Inuit Prints: Japanese Inspiration
and Sweet Innovation," Border Crossings,
vol. 30 no. 4, pp. 96 - 97.
Michelle Lewin, “Breaking Ground: Oil Stick
Drawing from Cape Dorset,” Inuit Art
Quarterly, Vol.24, No. 1, Spring 2009
Brian Lynch, “A carve above the rest,” The
Globe and Mail, August 19, 2005