John Tiktak

John Tiktak
George Swinton fonds, Winnipeg Art Gallery


John Tiktak, RCA (1916–1981) was a carver from Kareak, NU a camp between Arviat and Tikiraqjuaq (Whale Cove) on Hudson Bay [1]. Tiktak relocated to Kangiqlliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU to work in the nickel mine but following it’s closing began carving on a full-time basis [2].

Tiktak’s carving style is decidedly minimal, partially due to the hardness of the local stone. Despite the resistance of local materials Tiktak’s sculptures undergo significant reduction, employing grooves to define facial expressions and utilizing negative space to articulate limbs. Tiktak preferred to carve rounded heads from softer material and flattened heads from stone that was denser [3]. The hands and feet of his figures are rarely distinguished from the main body, most often flowing outwards from the torso in seamless arcs. Tiktak’s stylized carvings, often depicting scenes of mothers with children, monumental heads, solitary figures and grouped faces, retain a relative degree of symmetry. The piece Human Head (1960-1969) is an exception, as a single straight line, possibly representing a scar, running parallel across the left side of the figure’s face highlights the the otherwise unaffected symmetry of the composition.

John Tiktak was the first Inuit artist to be the subject of a solo exhibition, Tiktak: Sculptor from Rankin Inlet, N.W.T at Gallery One One One at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB [4]. In 1973 he was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. His works are held in several prominent Canadian collections including the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau, QC and National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON.

This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada.
Ce projet est financé en partie par le gouvernement du Canada.

John Tiktak a été le premier artiste inuit à faire l’objet d’une exposition individuelle, Tiktak: Sculptor from Rankin Inlet, N.W.T. (Tiktak : sculpteur de Rankin Inlet, T.N.-O.), au Musée des beaux-arts de Winnipeg (Manitoba) en 1970. Né à Kareak (Nunavut) en 1916, Tiktak a mené une vie traditionnelle à l’intérieur des terres jusque dans les années 1950, quand il s’est installé à Arviat (Nunavut) où il a commencé à sculpter à plein temps en 1962. Son style artistique est résolument minimal en raison de la dureté de la pierre locale. Il compensait cette densité en sculptant des rainures et des lignes pour définir les expressions du visage et en utilisant l’espace négatif pour articuler les membres. Le travail de Tiktak représente principalement des scènes de mères avec leurs enfants, des têtes monumentales, des figures solitaires et des visages groupés. Il a été admis à l’Académie royale des arts du Canada en 1973. Ses œuvres font partie de plusieurs collections importantes, dont celles du Musée canadien de l’histoire à Gatineau (Québec) et du Musée des beaux-arts du Canada à Ottawa (Ontario).
ᔮᓐ ᑎᒃᑕᖅ ᓯᕗᓪᓕᖅᐹᖅ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᓴᓇᙳᐊᖅᑎ ᐱᔾᔪᑎᖃᓚᐅᖅᑐᖅ ᐃᒻᒥᒃᑯᑦ ᑕᑯᒐᓐᓈᖅᑎᑦᑎᓂᕐᒧᑦ, ᑎᒃᑕᖅ: ᓴᓇᙳᐊᖅᑎ ᑲᖏᖅᖠᓂᖅ, ᓄᓇᑦᑎᐊᖅ, ᕕᓂᐲᒃ ᓴᓇᙳᐊᒐᐃᑦ ᑕᑯᒐᓐᓈᒐᖃᕐᕕᒃ ᒫᓂᑐᐸ 1970−ᖑᑎᓪᓗᒍ. ᐃᓅᓚᐅᖅᑐᖅ ᑲᕆᐊᖅ, ᓄᓇᕗᑦ, 1916−ᖑᑎᓪᓗᒍ, ᑎᒃᑕᖅ ᐃᓕᖅᑯᓯᒥᑎᒍᑦ ᐃᓅᓚᐅᖅᑐᖅ ᓄᓇᒥ 1950 ᑎᑭᓪᓗᒍ ᐊᕐᕕᐊᑦ, ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒧᑦ ᓅᑎᓪᓗᒍ, 1962−ᒥ ᓴᓇᙳᐊᖅᐸᓪᓕᐊᓪᓗᓂ ᖃᐅᑕᒫᑦ. ᓴᓇᙳᐊᒐᖏᑦ ᐊᔾᔨᒌᙱᓐᓂᖏᑦ ᐃᓱᒪᒋᔭᐅᔪᑦ ᒥᑭᓂᖓᓄᑦ ᑎᓯᓂᖓᓄᑦ ᐅᔭᕋᖏᓐᓄᑦ. ᑮᓇᐅᔭᓕᐅᓚᐅᖅᑐᖅ ᐅᖁᒪᐃᓐᓂᖓᓄᑦ ᓴᓇᙳᐊᒐᖅ ᓴᖑᖓᓂᖏᓐᓄᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᒪᓕᒃᑐᓄᑦ ᑐᑭᓕᐊᖓ ᓇᓗᓇᐃᔭᐃᓂᐊᕐᓗᒋᑦ ᑮᓇᓄᑦ ᖃᓄᐃᓐᓂᖏᓐᓄᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐊᑐᖅᑐᓂ ᐅᖓᓯᓐᓂᖏᓐᓄᑦ ᑕᓕᓄᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓂᐅᓄᑦ. ᑎᒃᑕᐅᑉ ᓴᓇᙳᐊᒐᖏᑦ ᐊᓈᓇᐃᑦ ᓄᑕᖅᑲᓪᓗ, ᐊᔾᔨᒌᙱᑦᑐᑦ ᓂᐊᖁᐃᑦ, ᐊᑕᐅᓯᖅ ᓴᓇᙳᐊᖅᓯᒪᔪᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᓚᒌᒃᑐᓂᒃ ᓴᓇᙳᐊᖅᓯᒪᔪᓂᒃ. ᐃᓚᒋᔭᐅᓚᐅᖅᑐᖅ ᕈᐃᔪ ᑲᓇᑕᒥ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕐᕕᒃ ᓴᓇᙳᐊᕐᓂᕐᒧᑦ 1973−ᖑᑎᓪᓗᒍ. ᓴᓇᙳᐊᒐᖏᑦ ᐱᒪᔭᐅᔪᑦ ᐊᒥᓱᓂᑦ ᐱᒻᒪᕆᐅᔪᒃᑯᑦ ᑲᑎᖅᓱᐃᓂᖅ ᐃᓚᒋᓄᒍ ᑲᓇᑕᒥ ᑕᑯᒐᓐᓈᒐᖃᕐᕕᒃ ᐃᑦᑕᕐᓂᑕᐃᑦ, ᒐᑎᓅ ᑯᐱᒃᒥ, ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᑲᓇᑕᒥ ᑕᑯᒐᓐᓈᒐᖃᕐᕕᒃ, ᐋᑐᕙ, ᐋᓐᑎᐅᕆᔫᒥ.

Artist Work

About John Tiktak



Artistic Community:

Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU

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.

Arviat, NU
January 1916

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 Updated by: Rebecca Gray
September 12, 2017 Created by: Sarah-Mecca Abdourahman Updated by: Inuit Art Foundation