OSUITOK IPEELEE, R.C.A. (1923-2005), Cape Dorset / Kinngait
stone, antler, wood, sinew
signed in syllabics
18.5 x 10.5 x 6 in — 47 x 26.7 x 15.2 cm
Osuitok Ipeelee’s singular attention to form, technical mastery and ingenuity had earned him a reputation as the best carver on Baffin Island in the early 1950's. He also caught the attention of James and Alma Houston who were visiting Port Harrison / Inukjuak at the time; James Houston would travel to Cape Dorset / Kinngait specifically to seek out the talented artist.
Osuitok continues to rank as one of Canada’s most accomplished artists, gaining international acclaim for his work. Fisherwoman is a fine example of the appealing, realistic female forms that the artist so enjoyed creating. She is strong yet graceful, her delicate features animated with fierce victory as she spears a fish.
Osuitok was known for the fine details in his work, a highly-detailed piece such as this generally would take him about a week to complete. In addition to the finely-incised patterns on her clothing, the fish, which would normally be a minute detail of a carving of this stature, has been elegantly rendered with great care. For him, it was small considerations like this that made the carving whole. In Jean Blodgett’s article on Osuitok, she wrote, “The really successful finished carving is a resolved, complete statement. Detail work helps realize the final sculptural form, making it ‘as if it were real’.” (p. 52)
Alma Houston, Inuit Art: An Anthology, Winnipeg, MB, 1988, p.42-52
Private Collection, Florida
Marion Scott Gallery, Vancouver