Sky at Night
By Itee Pootoogook
The Contemporary Art Gallery (CAG) presents the first solo exhibition in a public institution of work by Canadian artist Itee Pootoogook.
As part of an ongoing collaboration with The Canada Line Public Art Program and CAG, this off-site installation presented in large-scale at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station of ‘Sky at Night’ is a specially printed version of a landscape drawing. Its physicality alters as light changes throughout the day, its imagery deliberately playing with and gaining meaning from the specificity of the site.
A resident of Cape Dorset, Nunavut, Itee Pootoogook belongs to a generation of Inuit artists who are transforming and reshaping the creative traditions that were successfully pioneered by their parents and grandparents during the second half of the twentieth century. In his large-scale graphite and coloured pencil drawings, Pootoogook shows us an image of modern northern life quite different from the one we are accustomed to seeing both historically and in much Inuit work. In this vast and often inhospitable region, instead of traditional subjects we are shown an everyday world, one made up of recognizable contemporary accoutrements.
Pootoogook makes images of places, people and things, observed with prosaic intimacy. The Contemporary Art Gallery focuses not on works involving portraits of family and friends but on those images that picture the things which structure daily routine in this part of Canada — buildings, landscape and the means to travel to other parts of the country.
The apparent sophistication of Pootoogook’s images causes them to transcend any attempt to label or classify within generic assumption and thereby thoroughly resist our impulse to conveniently locate them within conventional aboriginal practice. While focusing on the commonplace, the artist’s work shifts our perception of the factual; understated, deliberate restraint foiling any tendency toward the grandiose or heroic.