Inuit Art Quarterly - - CONTENTS - Tim Pit­si­u­lak

Chris­tine Lalonde re­mem­bers

“I like to chal­lenge my­self,” Tim re­peat­edly said dur­ing our first in­ter­view to­gether when we talked about his ideas be­hind Un­ti­tled (Cock­pit) (2008), his stun­ning life-size draw­ing of the cock­pit in­te­rior of First Air’s ATR 72–500 as it was land­ing in Kin­ngait (Cape Dorset). Tim’s words are re­vived in my me­mory every time I see one of his draw­ings.

Tim was born and raised in Kim­mirut and it was there his first ef­forts in art­mak­ing be­gan: draw­ing in art classes and, for his own plea­sure, carv­ing oc­ca­sion­ally along­side his par­ents, Temela and Na­pachie Pit­si­u­lak, and even teach­ing art classes at the lo­cal Qaqqa­lik high-school. Tim also par­tic­i­pated in Arc­tic Col­lege’s jew­ellery and me­tal­work pro­gram in the 1990s (and later taught these prac­tices). A key turn­ing point was his move to Kin­ngait, around 2004, to be with his wife, Mary, as it al­lowed him to lead a rich life that bal­anced art­mak­ing at Kin­ngait Stu­dios with rais­ing a fam­ily, hunt­ing and fish­ing.

Since his first print Cari­bou Cross­ing was edi­tioned in 2005, it was ap­par­ent that Tim con­stantly set new goals to chal­lenge him­self and achieved them with spec­tac­u­lar as­sur­ance, whether it was tack­ling un­con­ven­tional sub­ject mat­ter, dif­fi­cult com­po­si­tions, un­usual per­spec­tives or dif­fer­ent ap­proaches in scale and me­dia. Over the past sev­eral years, his choice of sub­ject mat­ter ex­panded, from his ear­li­est in­ter­est in Arc­tic an­i­mals through to in­tri­cate en­gines and heavy ma­chin­ery, com­men­tary on so­cial and global is­sues, ev­ery­day hunt­ing and com­mu­nity scenes and ex­pan­sive de­pic­tions of the land­scape.

At the same time, al­though Tim was at the cen­tre of a cir­cle of Kin­ngait artists redefining con­tem­po­rary Inuit art, he equally car­ried on the same spirit of re­portage as el­der artists. Like the ground­break­ing artists Pitseolak Ashoona, RCA (1904-1983) and Kanang­i­nak Pootoo­gook, RCA (1935-2010) Tim was an ob­server of his own time and made draw­ings of his daily ex­pe­ri­ences, choos­ing sub­jects that strongly re­flect his in­ter­ests as an Inuk, an artist and an ac­tive hunter. By do­ing so Tim gave us a glimpse into his life and the lives of his fel­low Inuit.

Tim steadily moved well be­yond be­ing a ris­ing artist to be­come a pil­lar of Kin­ngait Stu­dios and a re­spected artist through­out Canada; how­ever, as a close friend of his re­cently com­mented, it was never about the art scene for him. With­out a doubt Tim was proud of his artis­tic ac­com­plish­ments—his ca­reer was a force, from his first solo show at Fe­he­ley Fine Arts, in Toronto to hav­ing his art­work in­cluded in ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tions such as Uu­tu­rautiit (2009), Inuit Mod­ern (2011), Cre­ation and Trans­for­ma­tion (2012–13), and Sakahàn: In­ter­na­tional In­dige­nous Art (2013). Be­yond show­ings of In­dige­nous art, he was one of the top Cana­dian artists se­lected for the National Gallery of Canada’s ex­hi­bi­tion Shin­ing a Light: Cana­dian Bi­en­nial (2014). Most im­por­tantly, his por­traits of him­self at work show how much he iden­ti­fied with be­ing an artist. Yet, as he said many times, his mo­ti­va­tion was to sup­port his fam­ily and the chal­lenge was to cre­ate and, from a deep-rooted com­mit­ment, to share his cul­ture, ex­pe­ri­ences and knowl­edge with peo­ple “down South” through the re­mark­ably broad reach of his art.

No words can di­min­ish the painful loss of his death, but there is some com­fort found in our mem­o­ries, in the last­ing im­pact he has had on our lives and in all that he gave of him­self in his art, which will re­main be­yond his life­time and ours.

Tim con­stantly set new goals to chal­lenge him­self and achieved them with spec­tac­u­lar as­sur­ance.

Photo Brit­tany Carmichael

Tim Pit­si­u­lak at Open Stu­dio in Toronto, April 2016 Op­po­site: Tim Pit­si­u­lak (1967-2016 Kin­ngait) GO PRO HYDROPHONE 2016 Pastel on pa­per 182.9 x 124.5 cm Cour­tesy Fe­he­ley Fine Arts © Dorset Fine Arts

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