The death of Jutai Toonoo of a heart attack on December 23, 2015 has left a considerable hole in the Inuit art scene. The work of Jutai was first introduced to me by Pat Feheley of Feheley Fine Arts. Thanks to Pat’s expertise, I was beginning to develop an appreciation of contemporary Inuit art from the Cape Dorset region. What I responded to was use of an “outsider” art technique to explore the impact of Canadian culture on indigenous populations. It was no longer all about soapstone carvings; the stakes were now much higher. No one responded more to this seismic shift than Jutai Toonoo whose work has, for me, a raw, manic energy. A central motif for Jutai is that of duality. This duality is often expressed by two heads which are similar but seemingly at odds. Jutai’s journey is definitely interior and personal. The image accompanying this blog gives an example of the power of Jutai’s work. The work is entitled “Lovers” but is more akin to the anguish of “The Scream” than frolicking seals.
Other examples of Jutai’s work can be found at gallery1007.com or Feheley Fine Arts.
Photos: TOM MAUNDER