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20 Carvers to Know in 2020: Johnny Sivuarapik

Jan 07, 2020
by Napatsi Folger

As the son of Puvirnituq artists Lizzie Kumangu and Thomassie Sivuarapik (1941–2009), creativity has always surrounded Johnny Sivuarapik. It’s no wonder then, that at a young age he developed the skills to create the surreal style that produced haunting sculptures like Emerging Faces (1999). Not all of the artist’s works take on this abstract style however, in other works Sivuarapik carefully manipulates stone to capture detailed scenes of hunting and traditional activities. The heavy strain of fighting to pull a seal out of the water is rendered almost effortlessly in Hunter Pulling Apertuk through Ice (2006).

As is typical for many artists, Sivuarapik learned his craft in a practical way—through observation. “I learned by watching my father carve. Just by watching him.” One can notice the artist’s keen sense of observation by the power of his lines indicating motion. His work is characterized by dynamic compositions and a sense of gravity not normally associated with inanimate stone. Perhaps this ability to sculpt power and motion so adeptly explains Sivuarapik’s favourite subject matter. Sivuarapik states his “favourite things to carve are whales—beluga, killer whale, all kinds of whales,” which are an apt representation of sheer natural force.

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