(1959 – 2015)
Jutai Toonoo was born on December 5, 1959 inside an igloo just outside of the Cape Dorset community. Jutai and his sister, the renowned artist Oviloo Tunnillie, both learned to carve by watching their father, the artist Toonoo Tunillie. Their younger brother Samonie Toonoo was also an artist.
Jutai first began carving at the age of seven and by 1982 carving had become his major source of income. For Jutai, making art was an essential act — an attempt at balance in a world off-kilter too much of the time. His work often depicts human figures in the midst of transformation, with spirits, animals, and other humans; issues of power and protection suffuse his work.
Jutai felt that the spirit world is more closely linked to our temporal world than we might imagine, asserting that spirits are always with us, imparting their power and protection to human beings in times of need.
Jutai belonged to the middle generation of Inuit artists who hover somewhere between the old and the new worlds of the Arctic, negotiating an identity that is at once culturally introspective and worldly. Jutai appreciated the role that carving plays in helping the Inuit to maintain their cultural identity, through the blending of traditional and modern themes. Jutai often incorporated text into his compositions, claiming that he does not plan the words — they simply emerge during the creative process. He was a commanding presence in contemporary Inuit art, creating works that rarely conform to common assumptions about Inuit sculpture.
Exhibition information available upon request.