Billy Gauthier is a Labrador based artist who answers every question about what is new and exciting in Inuit art.
Billy was born on July 7, 1978, in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador and is of Inuit and Métis descent. In his early years he travelled eastern Canada residing and schooling in Ottawa, Yarmouth and Halifax in Nova Scotia, then at the age of thirteen returned to live in Goose Bay. He now lives in North West River in Labrador and enjoys fishing and hunting on the land with his family.
In 1996, he began to carve after his mom arranged for him to visit his cousin John Terriak, a known sculptor in Labrador. John gave him a piece of stone and some files with which he carved his first piece — a small Inuk Portrait. At the time he was working at a gas station and on the sale of his second piece of Inuk Ice Fishing for $180, he decided that carving was not too difficult and that he would try to carve full time. He bought more tools and with the support of his family settled into a career as an artist.
From 1996 to 2007, he continued to carve selling his pieces in galleries in Labrador and New Brunswick, and participating in small exhibitions. In 2007, he was introduced to our gallery by Herb Brown as an artist with extraordinary talent who needed the opportunity to exhibit on the international stage. Since then, we have included Billy’s artworks in all our Inuit exhibitions including Mini-Masterworks 2 and 3, Woven in Time and Spirit Wrestler: Shaman, Sedna and Spirits, to much acclaim.
This is his first major solo exhibition and will comprise of over 20 sculptures carved by him over a two-year period. The sculptures vary in size but are all intimately carved with delicate detailing and inlays. The pieces are carved in a variety of materials including serpentine, anhydrite, ivory, antler and bone and reveal personal memories, as well as insights on traditional life in Labrador. He has never fallen into the pitfalls of repetition or predictability. It is obvious that he is truly excited about the creative process and each piece explores a narrative story, captures a moment in time, portrays characters he has met and envisions the darkest possibilities of the spirit world.
Billy has always been fascinated with human faces and their individual expressions. Even as a child he practiced and enjoyed sketching portraits. He says his art has been greatly influenced by the detailing in the carvings of Kiawak Ashoona, the free flowing graphics of Kenojuak Ashevak, and the sculptural forms and perfect inlaying by fellow Labrador artist, Michael Massie. His minute carved studies in ivory, bone and stone have often been compared to Japanese netsuke and appeal to collectors who appreciate miniature work.
The Spirit Wrestler Gallery has been exhibiting his sculptures for several years and watched as his artworks have found homes in the oldest and most established Inuit art collections, as well as drawing new collectors to the art form. It is a pleasure to work with an artist with such unlimited potential and we are excited to be hosting this solo exhibition.
It is early in his career and already his innovative and personal style has established him as one of the definitive Inuit artists of his generation. We look forward to watching Billy’s career develop in the future and sharing his journey with you. We hope that you will be able to visit the gallery to view the exhibition and meet the artist.
April 23 - May 14, 2016
The Spirit Wrestler team: Colin Choi, Derek Norton, Nigel Reading and Gary Wyatt, have been together now for over 30 years representing master-level Inuit, Northwest Coast, and Māori art - and for the last 20 years as the Spirit Wrestler Gallery. We are celebrating this amazing 20-year journey with a “birthday” exhibition, “Reflections 20Years”. The exhibition will feature many of the great artists from the three extraordinary cultures that we represent that have shared and supported us on this journey… and it is also a “thank you” for all of you who have made this journey so much fun! The Spirit Wrestler Gallery was founded in 1996 and quickly became one of the foremost galleries of first-nation art in North America. The name Spirit Wrestler originates from the title of the book by James Houston that tells the story of a young shaman learning his powers in the Canadian north. At the time, the gallery was looking for a name that allowed for the consideration of both traditional and shamanist-based arts here in Canada, as well as embracing the work by other artists from around the world. Early exhibitions included artists from Alaska, the Canadian Plains, and the Māori from New Zealand, being shown in the same room as Northwest Coast and Inuit art. The cross-cultural interactions have offered a unique fusion in the gallery and generated many group and solo exhibitions that we have hosted over the years. We were witnessing the trend of a growing interaction internationally between artists who were travelling far afield to research the art and modern cultural practices of other nations - and along the way, forging friendships that have endured across great distances. The last two decades have also been an exciting transition time for the arts being created by all three cultures. There was a pronounced movement towards the incorporation of new materials, such as glass, bronze, and polymers - which has opened new avenues for the art itself, both in terms of subject and scale. To be a part of seeing the artists exhibiting their work side-by-side has been very exciting and has made the Spirit Wrestler Gallery a unique and challenging experience for any visitor. We have had the privilege of representing many of the greatest Northwest Coast, Inuit, and Māori artists of our time - and have have had the privilege of showing a great number of the most important pieces produced over the last three decades. It has been an honour to share this long journey with so many great artists and clients. Thank you all so much for your belief and support.
Spirit Wrestler Gallery
47 Water Street
Canada V6B 1A1
Toll Free: 1-888-669-8813
3 blocks from Waterfront Station
Between Abbott St. and Carrall St.
Monday to Saturday, open 10-6
Sunday and Holidays, open 12-5
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