Floyd Kuptana

Floyd Kuptana
Courtesy Pete Corr


Floyd Kuptana was a prolific Toronto, ON-based artist from Paulatuuq (Paulatuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, who worked 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 [1]. In the early 1990s, Kuptana began to focus on making his own work, creating increasingly complex sculptural forms. His work engaged with Inuit spirituality by juxtaposing humour with frightening imagery to share narratives of haunting spirits and bumbling figures [2].

Kuptana often drew source material from myths and, in particular, depicted spiritual-physical transformations resulting in figures that straddle these two worlds. He was 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. Later in his career, Kuptana explored painting. In his two-dimensional works, he continued to combine humour with horror by depicting the spirit world’s appearance in daily life [3].

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.

Artist Work

About Floyd Kuptana


Graphic Arts, Painting, Sculpture

Artistic Community:

Paulatuk, NT

Date of Birth:

Artists may have multiple birth years listed as a result of when and where they were born. For example, an artist born in the early twentieth century in a camp outside of a community centre may not know/have known their exact date of birth and identified different years.

Cape Parry, NT

Date of Death:

Artists may have multiple dates of death listed as a result of when and where they passed away. Similar to date of birth, an artist may have passed away outside of a community centre or in another community resulting in different dates being recorded.

The Igloo Tag Trademark
The Igloo Tag Trademark is an internationally recognized symbol that denotes handmade, original artwork made by Inuit artists in Canada. Established in 1958, the Trademark is now managed by the Inuit Art Foundation. The appearance of the Igloo Tag on an artist profile means they have had the Trademark applied to their artwork.

Edit History

January 25, 2018 Edited by: Inuit Art Foundation
November 21, 2017 Updated By: Lera Kotsyuba