Syllabic Translator

i u a pi pu pa ti tu ta ki ku ka gi gu ga mi mu ma ni nu na si su sa li lu la ji ju ja vi vu va ri ru ra qi qu qa ngi ngu nga lhi lhu lha

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John Tiktak, R.C.A., ᔭᓐ ᑎᑕ



stone, signed in syllabics, ca. 1980, Minute imperfections and stable quarrying lines. Balanced and stable, overall very good condition.

Please contact the specialist for further condition information.

11.75 x 9 x 4 in — 29.8 x 22.9 x 10.2 cm

North of Sixty Art Ltd., St. Andrews, NB;
Private collection, Oakville, ON

Tiktak began sculpting after suffering a serious injury in a nickel mine in Kangiqsliniq (Rankin Inlet). In 1963 he committed himself to being a professional artist, beginning a body of work both startlingly consistent and original in vision. Pioneering Inuit art scholar and author George Swinton was quick to recognize Tiktak’s prodigious talents and the similarity of his work to the English artist Henry Moore.
In 1966 Swinton wrote in Canadian Art:

“[Tiktak] is primitive like Henry Moore, or Wotruba. That is to say, his sophistication of form is such that he arrives at primal shapes. And his communication is such that he requires the most elemental statements in content and form: he communicates elemental matter through primal form. Yet in this very simplicity he achieves a sophistication that comes only from struggle with thought and its distillation into form. It is precisely in this regard that he resembles Moore.” [1]

While stylistic similarities between Tiktak and Moore might suggest a related approach to a shared craft, in the case of Tiktak, the motivations for his subject matter were purely Inuit as indicated by Bernadette Driscoll:

“Symbolised by the mother’s amautik (parka), the maternal bond is an exceptionally visual image in Inuit life. Carried within the amautik, the child spends the first years of life in intimate contact with his or her mother. Tiktak uses the Inuit concept of amariik—the joining of mother and child as natural union—in each of his carving dealing with maternity…The strength of the maternal bond has been noted as an important influence in the artist’s own life.” [2]

In the present work, Tiktak has approached the subject of the mother and child sparing none of the forceful intensity for which his work is known. Muscular, and even raw in style, the tone is nonetheless one of compassion and care. The two smiling faces look out at the world around them, the mother with affection, and the child in apparent wonder and curiosity.

(1) George Swinton, Artists from the Keewatin in Canadian Art (April 1966: 32-34), 34.
(2) Bernadette Driscoll, Rankin Inlet /Kangirlliniq, (Ottawa: Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1981), quoted in Auger, Emily E., The Way of Inuit Art, Aesthetics and History in and Beyond the Arctic, (North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., 2005), 117.

Related Works:
Private Collection–See: Norman Zepp, Pure Vision, The Keewatin Spirit, (Regina: Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery University of Regina, 1986), p. 98, pl. 44

Estimate: $20,000—30,000

Auction Results

Auction Date Auction House Lot # Low Est High Est Sold Price
2022-06-09 Waddington's 92 20,000 30,000 12,000.00

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