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John Tiktak

Born, 1916 in Canada. Died, 1981

John Tiktak was born in January, 1916 at Kareak camp, on the west coast of Hudson Bay between Aqviat [Arviat/Eskimo Point] and Tikiraqjuaq [Whale Cove]. Tiktak lived the traditional, nomadic hunting lifestyle prior to moving to Aqviat in the mid-50’s and then to Kangiqlliniq [Rankin Inlet] in 1958. He became interested in sculpture while living in Kangiqlliniq and began his career as an artist in 1963. Like many artists from the Keewatin region Tiktak has a strong interest in the human figure.

Single figures, the mother and child theme and groupings of figures or heads and faces dominate Tiktak’s monumental yet austere stone sculpture. A master of both positive and negative space his minimal work is defined by beautifully rounded shapes and a sensitive use of line. Tiktak’s sculpture has been included in group exhibitions since 1970 and he was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1973.

Tiktak was one of the first Inuit artists to have a major catalogued exhibition in a public gallery. Tiktak: Sculptor from Rankin Inlet, NWT was presented at the University of Manitoba School of Art in 1970. The artist was in attendance at the opening of this exhibition at Gallery 111, University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg.

Like his contemporary, artist John Kavik, John Tiktak’s name is synonymous with sculpture in Kangiqlliniq. John Tiktak died in 1981. (From www.ccca.ca/inuit/bios_english/tiktak_bio.html)

Tiktak’s work, was included in Exiles, Diasporas & Strangers, (edited by Kobena Mercer). One of four books in a series titled Annotating Art’s Histories, jointly published by The MIT Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts and iniva the Institute of International Visual Arts, London, published in 2008. The piece in question was Untitled (Four Heads and Vacant Space; Family) 1962, stone. The relevant chapter was The Turn of the Primitive: Modernism, the Stranger and the Indigenous Artist, by Ruth Phillips.

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Book relating to a publication, 2008