The Guild is proud to present, in the context of the MONTRÉAL FIRST PEOPLES FESTIVAL and in collaboration with LAND InSIGHTS, the most recent solo exhibition by Inuvialuit (Canadian Arctic region) master sculptor Abraham Anghik Ruben: Similar in Spirit: Norse and Inuit Interactions. This exhibition, which will be held from June 1st to August 19, 2017 will be the first event of the season and will mark the launch of the festival. For the occasion, the artist will present fifteen sculptures. Each of the artworks shall be accompanied by a corresponding preparatory sketch, drawn by the artist. Awarded the Order of Canada in 2016, Abraham Anghik Ruben is recognized for his narrative works greatly inspired by myths and legends. He is inspired by various influences and his work mixes elements of Christian, Inuit, Northern and Western iconographies. In the same tradition as Inuit shamans, who are mediators between the world of animals, that of spirits, the world of Men, and that of Nature, Ruben, as artist, is keeping up with his filiations by acting as mediator between his history, his culture, his beliefs and the spectator viewing his work. For this exhibition, the artist will present his personal interpretations of various Inuit and Norse myths and their associated stories. Don't miss this unique chance to dive into the world of these Northern peoples!
► ABRAHAM ANGHIK RUBEN (1951)
Inuvialuit Sculptor (Canadian Arctic region)
Born in 1951, Abraham Anghik Ruben grew up in a camp south of Paulatuk, Northwest Territories, east of the Mackenzie River delta. There, Inuvialuit communities have come into contact with successive waves of Westerners: first whalers, then Canadian Mounted Police, then Christian missionaries, and finally the Hudson's Bay Company. Inuit living there did so according to ancient traditions, although they were raised following Christian beliefs, and they took advantage of the materials, the culture and other tools originating from Westerners. Snatched from his parents and his culture at the age of eight, he was sent to an Aboriginal residential school with his brothers and sisters. He will only return home at the age of 19 years. This traumatism will profoundly scar him emotionally and culturally. He subsequently joined the Native Arts Centre at the University of Alaska in 1971, and followed six years of training, during which he developed a particular interest for design and the use of materials. His professor Ronald Senungetuk will then have a great influence on his advancement and his practice. Very rapidly, the mastery of his medium, his technique, and the themes he deals with cause him to be noticed by the Pollock Gallery in Toronto, among others, where he holds his first vernissage at the age of 25 years old.
Abraham Anghik Ruben is awarded the Order of Canada in 2016. He has participated in several collective exhibitions of contemporary art, such as Noah’s Ark, held at the National Gallery of Canada in 2004, where his work was exhibited alongside the likes of artists Brancusi, Degas, Picasso, Louise Bourgeois, Brian Jungen and Kiki Smith. More recently, the Museum of Inuit Art dedicated their spaces to a solo exhibition of his, Beyond Aurora Borealis in 2015-16. His works are part of important museum collections, such as that of the Canadian Museum of History, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. His work may also be admired at the Canadian Embassy in Washington and has been integrated into the Cerny Inuit Collection in Switzerland. Since 1986, he has been living with his family in Salt Spring Island, B.C., where he works.
As an artist, I have always been fascinated by the cultures and people of the Northern Hemisphere. The interest has led me to the ancient relationship between the Inuit and the Viking Norse. There are interesting parallels between these two northern people. At the time of first contact they held similar spiritual and religious beliefs through their respective practices of shamanism. Their spiritual, cultural and artistic traditions developed over long periods of time, tempered by their relationship to the land and the powerful spirits that inhabited these places. My sculptures portraying Viking Norse myths, stories and legends have Norse decorative lines and motifs. These are designs that I have adapted and changed to enhance the visual impact and to convey the sense of belonging to that place and time. As a storyteller, I have sought to bring life to these ancient voices from a time when these two northern people held a reverence for the land and for all living things therein that provided sustenance and survival.
- Abraham Anghik Ruben
► LAND INSIGHTS
LAND INSIGHTS is the driving force behind the Montreal First Peoples Festival, a multidisciplinary artistic and cultural event that makes Montreal the nerve centre of Indigenous creativity from the three Americas for ten days in August. We set three strategic objectives upon our foundation in 1990: create a major First Nations festival in Montreal, commemorate and remember the Great Peace of Montreal 1701 upon its tricentennial, and secure a permanent home for First Cultures in Québec’s metropolis. Mission: Link the artistic and cultural renaissance of First Peoples to the cultural dynamics of a major metropolis within a sustainable development perspective based on friendship between peoples, diversity of sources of expression as a collective cultural wealth to share and recognition of the specificity of First Nations.
Image : Odin Shape Shifter [Les transformations d’Odin], Bronze, 93 x 92 x 53 cm. Photo : Kipling Gallery