Kananginak Pootoogook

Kananginak Pootoogook, RCA was born in 1935 at Ikirasaq, NU, a small hunting camp on southern Baffin Island. Son of the well-respected camp leader Josephie Pootoogook, Kananginak grew up in a traditional Inuit family and was raised to be a hunter and trapper. Inuit values, beliefs and ways of life hence become important themes in his art. In the late 1950s he settled in Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU and quickly became known for his drawings and prints through the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative (WEBC) print program [1].

Pootoogook became the first spokesperson of the WBEC and eventually became president of the Board of Directors. He believed printmaking and the graphic arts program in Kinngait provided opportunities for Inuit to create and establish new economic opportunities; Pootoogook was dedicated to making the program part of his community [2]. Through the print program, Pootoogook learned to create engravings and lithographs, how to translate an artist’s drawing into prints and became one of the four original printers of the studio [3]. From 1959 onwards, a selection of his prints were included in all but three annual catalogued collections [4]. Besides excelling as a printmaker, he created vivid, documentary-style drawings. His drawings are a lens through which viewers can see both positive and negative cultural changes in his community. Pootoogook used humour and subtlety to highlight the incongruous in the everyday and small, magical moments in nature [5].

His creations have been exhibited in many major galleries and museums around the world and are a part of numerous collections. Most recently, his work was included in the 57th Venice Biennale, which opened in May 2017. Pootoogook was the first Inuit artist to have work included in the international exhibition.



1997: Commissioned by the Governor General of Canada to carve an Inuksuk for Rideau Hall.


[1] “Kananginak Pootoogook,” Spirit Wrestler Gallery. http://www.spiritwrestler.com/catalog/index.php?artists_id=1
[2] Leslie B. Ryan, “In Memoriam: Kananginak Pootoogook,” Inuit Art Quarterly 26, no. 1, Spring 2011, 62.
[3] “Kananginak Pootoogook,” Historica Canada. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/kananginak-pootoogook/
[4] “Kananginak Pootoogook,” Dorset Fine Arts. http://www.dorsetfinearts.com/kananginakpootooogook/
[5] "Inuit Art at the 57th Venice Biennale" Inuit Art Quarterly online, February 8, 2017, http://iaq.inuitartfoundation.org/news-inuit-art-venice-biennale-2017/