Tupilaks
Various Regions :: Inuit Sculpture

Hunter Spirit
Hunter Spirit, c. 1960, Tupilak (Greenland)
whale tooth, 2½" × 1" × 1"
Rabbit Spirit
Rabbit Spirit, c. 1960, Tupilak (Greenland)
whale tooth, 3¼" × 1" × 1"

Slideshow

Tupilaks

In Greenlandic Inuit (Kalaallit) traditions, a tupilak (tupilaq, tupilait) was an avenging monster fabricated by a practitioner of witchcraft or shamanism by using various objects such as animal parts (bone, skin, hair, sinew, etc.) and even parts taken from the corpses of children. The creature was given life by ritualistic chants. It was then placed into the sea to seek and destroy a specific enemy.

The use of a tupilak was risky, however, because if it was sent to destroy someone who had greater magical powers than the one who had formed it, it could be sent back to kill its maker instead, although the maker of tupilak could escape by public confession of her or his own deed.

Because tupilaks were made in secret, in isolated places and from perishable materials, none have been preserved. Early European visitors to Greenland, fascinated by the native legend, were eager to see what tupilaks looked like so the Inuit began to carve representations of them out of sperm whale.

Today, tupilaks of many different shapes and sizes are carved from various materials such as narwhal and walrus tusk, wood and caribou antler. They are an important part of Greenlandic Inuit art and are highly prized as collectibles.

Daphne OdjigDaphne Odjig, Canadian Indigenous Artist and Icon Dies at 97. Click here for more details.

Odjig is frequently referred to as the "Grandmother of Indigenous Art." She has been the recipient of many awards, honours and recognitions for her works, to name a few: The Order of Canada, the Governor General's Award, and eight Honorary Doctorates. Her works have been shown in the National Gallery of Canada, The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Art Gallery of Ontario.


She established the first native-run fine art print house in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1971. Known as 'Odjig Indian Prints,' this print house was so successful that it evolved into an Indigenous gallery space in 1974, called the New Warehouse Gallery, run by Odjig and her husband, Chester Beavon. She was also a founding member of the Indian Group of Seven. This artistic group's purpose was to promote Contemporary Indigenous art and artists.

Alex JanvierAlex Janvier's major retrospective, "Alex Janvier: Modern Indigenous Master" is now open at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario until January 21st, 2018. Afterwards, it will travel to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton and the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.

This exhibition was recently on display at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa and the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina. Alex Janvier is one of Canada's most acclaimed contemporary artists. His career of sixty-five years has yielded thousands of paintings, and more than twenty-five murals and public commissions. (Photo credit: Kim Griffiths)

Rita LetendreGallery Gevik congratulates renowned Canadian and International abstract painter, Rita Letendre, on her first major museum retrospective exhibition outside of Québec. Rita Letendre: Fire and Light is now open until September 17, 2017 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

This exhibition, which covers Letendre's career from the 1960's to 2000's, is co-curated by Wanda Nanibush and Georgiana Uhlyarik. The retrospective features nearly forty large-scale paintings drawn from major national public and private collections.

Letendre was widely exhibited with the artistic groups, Les Automatistes and Les Plasticiens. She has received the Governor General's Award in Visual Arts, the Prix Paul-Émile Borduas, and the Orders of Canada, Ontario and Québec. Click here for more details.