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Not Your Average Inuit Cliche


The first thing you see when you walk into Feheley Fine Arts is a drawing of a living room that would look more at home on a wall at 111 Archer Ave. than at a gallery specializing in Inuit Art.

Actually, the work of Annie Pootoogook, Shuvinai Ashoona and Siassie Kenneally (the 3 Cousins of the title of this group show) is about as far removed from your usual idea of Inuit art as you can get. There are no sled dogs or bright smiling faces framed by fur-lined hoods, no polar bears and the only seal I could find had already been gutted.

What's more, the materials used are more likely to show up in some West Queen West gallery than here in Yorkville. Usually you see pencil crayons used with a fairly hefty dose of irony or kitsch, but that's just one more thing that sets these works apart from what I've come to expect from art in Toronto (gimmicks, cheap laughs, sarcasm and the never-ending quest for "success")

Here we have sincerity and honesty. These drawings are simple looking, but they're not simple. The pencil crayon and compositions suggest naivete but they're not naive. There's a great deal of confidence and attention to detail in these works. The key rack and the stereo speakers in "Living Room" by Pootoogook (pictured right), and the amazing use of perspective in Keneally's landscapes make any comparison to doodles or sketches impossible.

I may have mentioned this in previous posts but commitment to the image is really what takes a good idea and turns it into great art. These images give an engaging perspective on Inuit life that is rare to see, especially in the city.

3 Cousins by Siassie Kenneally, Shuvinai Ashoona & Annie Pootoogook is at Feheley Fine Arts (14 Hazelton Ave.) until July 28, 2007


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