Carleton University Art Gallery CUAG

Parr and Luke Anguhadluq: Drawing from Life

Curated by Sandra Dyck

30 August – 30 October 2011

Although they never met, Luke Anguhadluq and Parr share much in common, as men and as artists. Born two years apart in the 1890s, both were hunters who grew up on the land, only moving to permanent settlements in 1961 – Parr to Cape Dorset and Anguhadluq to Baker Lake. Their hunting activities curtailed by infirmity and age, they forged second careers as artists, drawing from life experience and memory to make spare and remarkable images that often depict the hunt, hunters, and the hunted, and in Anguhadluq’s case, community and spiritual life.

In Parr’s drawings, hunters advance across the page – always from right to left – in stately armadas, determinedly pursuing and occasionally confronting animals in an unceasing quest for food not bound in space or time by the edges of the paper. Anguhadluq’s compositions are looser: he sometimes turned the paper while drawing, orienting figures to different sides of the paper or spiraling figures and objects out from the centre. They’re also more abstract: the quest for food might be alluded to by a lone fishing spear. In other drawings, caribou antlers, spears, and fish extend out from mask-like human faces, collapsing the physical and conceptual distance between humans and animals.

Neither artist gave priority to depicting recognizable places, individualized people or actual events recalled from memory, nor did they pay heed to Western ideas of naturalism and perspective. Both reduced their subject, whether fishing scene, family group or drum dance, to its most essential characteristics and rendered it with great stylistic economy. The works of Parr and Anguhadluq may appear straightforward, but they offer intense glimpses of their interior states and exterior realities that remain ultimately unknowable, then and now.

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