Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)
Joe Kiloonik

Joe Kiloonik


Taloyoak, Nunavut Territory, Canada


A self-taught artist who began carving in the 1970s, Joe has evolved a style that reflects a very different aspect of the regional stylism that we commonly associate with the art of the Kitikmeot.

The art of Taloyoak (Spence Bay) and Gjoa Haven changed direction dramatically in the early seventies with the upheaval caused by the work of Karoo Ashevak — whose flamboyant carvings in whalebone opened up the possibilities for a radically different kind of art to that available from other communities. While thematically there are clear differences between the work of Karoo and the artists that followed, Joe’s classically austere figures have a similar sense of otherness, that embracing of the the mystical with powerful, quietly humourous imagery.

Joe likes to be on the land most summers, which cuts into his carving time, and while he has been exhibiting since the early eighties, work from him has been much harder to acquire, in part due to the meticulously fine-finishing of his work, and in part due to his difficulty in finding quality stone that suits his style.

As one of the most original carvers of the Kitikmeot region, this exhibition of sixteen works is the long overdue first solo showing for this outstanding artist. The show reflects over two years of the work of this slow and painstaking artist, offering a rare glimpse into the dream-like world of Joe Kiloonik. His world is not necessarily a painful world… but one simply overwhelming by its vastness. His subjects appear lost between the world that we can readily perceive and the unknown spirit world that surrounds and engulfs us.

— excerpt from the 1998 solo exhibition [Archive]

Artist Contemporaries