The sculptor, Judas Ullulaq, is now among the past masters of Inuit art and as such his more significant works, such as this one, will generally be sold by collectors at a premier Canadian auction department of Inuit art rather than by private galleries as they tend to be more focused on selling and marketing the art of living Inuit artists. Walker’s auctions in Ottawa is currently the leader in sales of Inuit art, due to their highly respected specialist, Ingo Hessel.
ARTIST’S PROFILE: Judas Ullulaq
Ullulaq was born in the Thom Bay area at a settlement on the Boothia Peninsula, in Nunavut, northeast of Taloyoak (Gjoa Haven), Spence Bay in the Eastern Arctic. He was the youngest of 8 brothers and sisters and his three brothers are sculptors. He lived at outpost camps with his birth family until the late 1960’s, when he settled in Taloyoak (Gjoa Haven) so his children could attend school. He had five of his own and four adopted. While at Spence Bay he still lived on the land. When Judas was young he grew up with girls and learned a lot about making dolls. His first carving was a person as he found the human figure easiest to make. Judas started carving at a time when everyone else around him took up carving as a source of income. At the outset around 1961 Ullulaq carved mainly ivory miniatures, but when he began working with soapstone in 1973 his sculptures increased dramatically in size over the years. In his last decades he sculpted primarily in stone, using mixed-media accents such as ivory, antler, bone, sinew, and musk-ox horn. Distorted, wide-eyed, open-mouthed faces, and exaggerated gestures and body movements give his work a strong expressive and emotional presence. Ullulaq's style and subject matter was greatly influenced by the work of his nephew, the great Karoo Ashevak (1940-1974) whose focus was on spirits and the supernatural, themes for which the Kitikmeot region has come to be recognized. Ullulaq had over 70 solo and group shows including at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the McMichael Gallery, the United Nations and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. He died of lung cancer in Gjoa Haven.
Sculpture: Woman and Child 1998 by Judas Ullulaq above.