“Mattiusi Iyaituk began sculpting at age fourteen, following in the footsteps of his father, Markusi, and his brother Nutaraaluk, who were both sculptors. Until the late 1970s, he created figurative pieces, but he changed direction after encountering the work of Inuit artist Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok and British sculptor Henry Moore. In 1984 a Canada Council grant allowed Iyaituk, then a policeman, to give up police work and devote himself to a fulltime career as an artist. In 1996 he became president of the Inuit Art Foundation and remained in that position for sixteen years. He is one of the few Inuit artists to have traveled extensively, teaching workshops, for example, in Siberia and China.
“Iyaituk works in a variety of materials—soapstone, serpentine, marble, wood, caribou antler, alabaster, and copper—often recording personal experiences in abstract sculptural forms. He has been the subject of numerous articles, and his work has been featured in many exhibitions, both nationally and and internationally.”
Excerpt from “Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3”, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, 2012.
“When you look at my sculpture, you don’t understand all of it. For this reason, you have the freedom to dream. Everyone has opinions about art so I just put titles for each piece and leave the rest for dreams.
“I started to do abstract forms in 1979. One day, I was doing a sculpture of a man but I did not like it. So, I just made forms on one side. Since that time, I have been doing sculptures using abstract forms.
“I also inlay different materials such as caribou antler, or different colour stone for faces or other details like tools. The inlaying of bone faces is an old form of art used by earlier Inuit sculptors.
“My work is in both worlds because the abstract forms I use are considered by many to be a modern way of doing art but combine the abstract forms with the old Inuit technique of inlaying.
“Before 1979, I was doing my sculptures like the way I saw it done in Ivujivik, Quebec. I used to put detail on my work like everyone else until I fell in love with abstract form. It makes me feel good to work in abstract form, therefore I know it is the right form of art for me.”
Mattiusi Iyaituk, “Abstract Artist” (Artist Statement)
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