b. 1988 Kinngait, NU
Picture this: an enormous tropical spider, a bird wearing striped leotards, a blimp-shaped lemming in bubble gum pink. These are a few of the graphic images from the hand of Saimaiyu Akesuk, a young Kinngait (Cape Dorset) artist who is rapidly gaining a worldwide reputation for her energetic and audacious prints and drawings. At first glance, Saimaiyu’s works are reminiscent of the simple bold images of elders like Sheojuk Etidlooie and Papiara Tukiki. However the similarities are deceptive. Unlike her forbearers, Saimaiyu’s work has an urban sensitivity that combines elements of Arctic imagery with Hollywood creations and balloons from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. With loose bounding lines, she draws monumental looking depictions of common birds, animals, transformations and insects and then fills in the shapes with pure, luscious, fruit juice colours and vigorous scribbling and crosshatching. The results are images that are contained yet expansive, intimate yet celebratory and, even on a small scale, larger than life. Saimaiyu’s prints were first introduced to the public in the 2013 Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection, and, in the years since, she has gone on to exhibit in solo shows in Canada and the US.
Saimaiyu Akesuk Untitled 2017 Coloured pencil and ink 58.5 × 76.1 cm