Quvianaqtuk Pudlat

Quvianaqtuk Pudlat
Inuit Artist Residency

In celebration of its 50th anniversary in 2020, Open Studio is excited to announce a re-launch of the Inuit Artist Creative Residency, welcoming Quvianaqtuk Pudlat in the spring of 2020. The 2020 Inuit Artist Creative Residency is generously sponsored by the Government of Canada through the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency. Quvianaqtuk Pudlat will work in collaboration with Open Studio printmakers from March 2 – 14, 2020. Pudlat will create two screenprint editions based on his iconic Arctic wildlife drawings.

Quvianaqtuk Pudlat (b. 1962, Kinngait/Cape Dorset, Nunavut) is the son of Odlureak Pudlat and Ningeosiaq Pudlat, who were both printmaking artists. His grandfather Simeonie Quppapik was a well-known artist, printmaker and typographer. For many years, Quvianaqtuk was a well-respected sculptor and his carvings of animals and birds are in many important collections. Recently he began drawing and several of his prints have been included in the 2017 and 2018 Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection. His graphic work has been exhibited at the Inuit Gallery of Vancouver, Feheley Fine Arts in Toronto and Highpoint Centre for Printmaking in Minneapolis.

Reflecting on Quv Pudlat, recipient of the 2020 Inuit Artist Creative Residency
Written by Laura Demers

A duo of playful foxes, ears perked and with a spring in their tails, dance on the page. Two iterations of this lively image result from Quvianaqtuk Pudlat’s period of intensive making and learning at Open Studio in early March 2020. Toronto’s long-standing printmaking establishment hosted the artist in the context of the Inuit Artist Creative Residency, an initiative in collaboration with Kinngait Studios through the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative (WBEC) that has welcomed acclaimed printmakers from the North, most recently the late Tim Pitsiulak in 2016.

During his residency at Open Studio, Quv Pudlat, an established draftsman and sculptor, stepped out of his creative comfort zone in order to explore the medium of screen printing. Over the course of his two weeks in Toronto, he took advantage of the facilities’ new equipment — notably the large screen presses — and developed two editions with the technical assistance of printmakers Jessica (Jess) Palmer and Nicholas (Nick) Schick. “It was really interesting to see Quv’s comfort level in the studio develop over the course of the residency” mentions Jess. “He started drawing right away when he arrived, and by the end of the last week, he was also comfortable with a range of new materials.”

Many artists at the Kinngait Studios in Nunavut are experts in stonecut, lithography, linocut, and etching methods. In each of these techniques, the artist carves an image into a surface (ie. a stone, copper, or linoleum plate) that is then covered in ink and pressed onto paper. The screenprinting/silkscreen process, however, uses an entirely different approach, and this is what Quv sought to learn. With this latter technique, instead of a carving, the image (either a drawing, a photograph, or a composite of the two) is chemically fixed onto a mesh screen to form a stencil, through which ink is then pushed using a squeegee. In order to create such vibrant images as Playful Foxes I & II, Quv Pudlat used several layers of overlapping drawings, areas of solid colour, with varying hues and types of line work. Needless to say, the artist’s dedication to acquiring this new skill was a remarkable success.

And the results are stunning. Initially rendered in markers, pens and pencils, the pair of young Arctic foxes, once translated into prints, further exemplifies the artist’s keen eye for anatomical detail. In both editions, the treatment of the animals’ smooth furs gives their slim bodies an animated quality. “I like drawing them in pairs, it creates more movement”, says the artist. In his work, Quv often depicts Arctic wildlife and reimagines traditional themes in Inuit art with a tremendous sense of observation that comes both from intimate encounters with the northern fauna, and from watching nature documentaries on television.

Besides his artistic practice, Quv is also active in arts advocacy. While in Toronto, Quv facilitated a virtual tour of Open Studio for friends and other artists in Kinngait, who took great interest in his unique experience. Now back among his peers in the Kinngait community — of which more than 22% are already professional artists –, Quv intends on sharing his experience and new technique with other creatives and with students who might be considering a career in the arts.

In the future, other artists from Kinngait, perhaps inspired by Quv’s artistic path, may visit Open Studio. As the print-focused organization mentions, this undertaking comes from a historic affiliation with Kinngait Studios and the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative — the residency has taken many shapes over the years but has remained at the core of this partnership since the 1970s. These organizations have been regular collaborators in the past, and have continually rekindled their commitment to one another through various creative exchanges.