Tim Pitsiulak

Tim Pitsiulak was a Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU-based artist who worked primarily in drawing and printmaking. Pitsiulak, writes curator Christine Lalonde, “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.”[1] Across these roles, Pitsiulak demonstrated a deep respect for, and connection to, the land and beings around him, which he communicated through his work.

Pitsiulak was born in Kimmirut, NU, and began drawing as a child. Though he experimented with sculpture and trained in making jewellery at Arctic College, he excelled in graphic arts. His first print, Caribou Migration, was released in the Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection in 2005, only a few years after moving from Kimmirut to Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU. The detailed print showing a family of caribou bounding across the page marked the beginning of a successful career in the medium.

Though he is undeniably one of the most successful print artists in recent years, Pitsiulak’s drawings have garnered him the most acclaim. Throughout the course of his career, he made detailed and memorable works, often sourced from his own photographs. Pitsiulak’s deep affection for his community and his place within it was borne out, again and again, in his tender and honest depictions of life in Kinngait, whether of sweeping landscapes or the heavy, complex machinery necessary to build permanent structures in the unforgiving tundra. “Tim,” writes curator Andrew Hunter in a 2017 feature “would not tell you things, he would show you things.” [2]

His understanding of the natural world and its balance is evident in works such as After Dinner (2014) where a sleeping polar bear rests alongside the skull of a walrus. Rendered in exceptional detail, this work deftly explores the cyclical relationship between predator and prey and hints at the viewers’ own position, through Pitsiulak’s eyes, as observer as well as hunter. Similarly, in Untitled (Cockpit) (2008), the artist depicts an intimate overhead view of the Arctic landscape from a first-person vantage. Here, large windows frame both the rocky terrain and blue water below as well as the light blue gradient of the sky above in a composition that captures and conveys the artists’ affinity for his home. For the exhibition Don’t Stop Me Now (2013) at Esplanade Art Gallery in Medicine Hat, AB, curator Diana Warren included this work, noting it provides “...a sense of where the artist is from--what [he was] thinking about regarding [his] own community.” [3]

Pitsiulak’s work has been exhibited in museums across North America and has been collected widely, by both public institutions and private collectors.

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Accomplishments 

2016      Winner of the CHARS Art Competition.
2016      Artist Residency at Open Studio in Toronto, ON. 
2015      Commissioned by Cadillac Fairview Corporation to create a large-scale drawing.
2015      Designed 25-cent coin for the Royal Canadian Mint. 
2013      Artist Residency at New Leaf Studios in Vancouver, BC. 
2012      Artist Residency at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery, AB.



Citations/Footnotes

1. Christine Lalonde, “Tribute: Tim Pitsiulak (1967-2016)” Inuit Art Quarterly 30, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 16
2. Andrew Hunter, "Tim Pitsiulak: Stories of What Lies Beneath," Inuit Art Quarterly 30, no. 3 (Fall 2017): 69
3. Becky Rynor, “Travelling Through Aboriginal Time and Space,” National Gallery of Canada Magazine, January 23, 2013, accessed February 22, 2017, http://www.ngcmagazine.ca/exhibitions/travelling-through-aboriginal-time-and-space