The works of Manumie Qavavau—an Inuit artist, drawer and meticulous print-maker— flow between two extremes: narrativity and surrealism. Transformation is a recurring theme, suggesting a fluid relationship between the human and animal world, as well as between nature and technology. In his drawings, the whale becomes a huge ship with a hull and mast instead of a dorsal fin; a woman lies on a bed of seaweed, having a fish fin instead of a leg; and the birds and fish alternate with hooks and harpoons, representing the interdependence between their lives and people's lives. Along with transformation, there is also potentiality—a small man holds two giant bird wings in each hand, seeming to consider the possibility of escape or the potential to become another being.
Manumie Qavavau is known for his graphic works and intricate compositions with ink and colored pencil. His interests include Inuit legends and mythology, Arctic nature and illustrations of contemporary Inuit life. Along with depictions of the sea, a recurring theme for Qavavau is
Inugagulligaq, or members of the Inuit tribes referred to as little people. The artist's inspiration stems from the stories told to him by his father, Inugagulligaq, who lives in an Inuit society. Qavavau is a representative of already the next generation of Inuit artists who have contributed to the Canadian GDP—the art of this indigenous peoples has been selling well since the 1950s. However, Inuit life has not improved—the inhabitants of Nunavut suffer from poverty, are plagued by alcoholism and domestic violence. Art, especially traditional drawing, is the only chance for getting out of poverty.
Qavavau’s works are the real
end of nature, i.e. nature understood as a setting of action uncontaminated by human interventions. We observe the end of the world through the glass of a broken bottle, but the world also looks at us, in the form of a glacier with the head of a large bird ready to attack; the human species is trapped together with other various species of animals, fish, and birds in a monstrous problem. The artist’s drawings are also a record of nightmares that torment him in connection with the sixth mass extinction and the irreversibility of the changes brought about by the Anthropocene era. In his delicate, subtle—at first glance—drawings, the ice cracks, the horizon burns, but the tourists are blithely camping, being watched by hiding indigenous Arctic inhabitants.
Format: 51×66;50.8×66.2;50.7×66.3;50.8×66.2;55.7×75.9;50×65;58.5×76;58.5×76 cm
Ownership form: collection Source: West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative Index: MSN: 4300-28-35/2020 Acquisition date: Dec 18, 2020