Floyd Kuptana is a prolific Toronto, ON-based artist from Paulatuuq (Paulatuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT working in sculpture, painting and collage. Kuptana learned to carve from his cousin, Francis Ruben, who Kuptana assisted. Additional members of Kuptana’s family facilitated with his artistic education, providing him with the skills to begin creating his own forms out of whalebone and muskox horn . In the early 1990s, Kuptana began to focus on making his own work, creating increasingly complex sculptural forms. His work engages with Inuit spirituality by juxtaposing humour with frightening imagery to share narratives of haunting spirits and bumbling figures .
Kuptana often draws source material from myths and, in particular, depicts spiritual-physical transformations resulting in figures that straddle these two worlds. He is also known for his mask sculptures that appear to be caught between forms, such as his Shaman Mask (2011), which appears at once as human, animal and monster—the face seemingly in motion as it transitions into its final form. In Ballroom Dancer (2005), highly polished black steatite forms the body of a standing bear with long limbs flowing outward into a performative stance. Along with the figure’s bear-like face, the work leaves viewers with a surreal or dream-like impression and appeared on the cover of the Spring 2008 issue of Inuit Art Quarterly. More recently, Kuptana has explored painting. In his two-dimensional works, he continues to combine humour with horror by depicting the spirit world’s appearance in daily life .
Kuptana’s work has been recognized in exhibitions across Canada, the United States and Europe. His work is also held in public collections at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, ON, the Cerny Inuit Collection in Bern, Switzerland and the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Winnipeg, MB.
1. IAQ Staff, “Floyd Kuptana: Reinventing Myths,” Inuit Art Quarterly 23, no. 1(Summer 2008): 19.
2. Richard D. Mohr, “Floyd Kuptana: Untitled,” Inuit Art Quarterly 30, no. 4 (Winter 2017): 17.
3. Ibid., 17.