Kananginak was involved with drawing and printmaking since the late 1950’s when the West Baffin Eskimo Co-op first initiated the graphic arts program at Cape Dorset. Kananginak’s first print, a collaborative image with his father, was included in the first catalogued collection of Cape Dorset prints in 1959. His work has been included in all but three annual collections since that time.
Kananginak Pootoogook, RCA was born in 1935 at Ikirasaq, NU, a small hunting camp on southern Baffin Island. Son of the well-respected camp leader Josephie Pootoogook, Kananginak grew up in a traditional Inuit family and was raised to be a hunter and trapper. Inuit values, beliefs and ways of life hence become important themes in his art. In the late 1950s he settled in Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU and quickly became known for his drawings and prints through the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative (WEBC) print program.
Pootoogook became the first spokesperson of the WBEC and eventually became president of the Board of Directors. He believed printmaking and the graphic arts program in Kinngait provided opportunities for Inuit to create and establish new economic opportunities; Pootoogook was dedicated to making the program part of his community. Through the print program, Pootoogook learned to create engravings and lithographs, how to translate an artist’s drawing into prints and became one of the four original printers of the studio. From 1959 onwards, a selection of his prints were included in all but three annual catalogued collections. Besides excelling as a printmaker, he created vivid, documentary-style drawings. His drawings are a lens through which viewers can see both positive and negative cultural changes in his community. Pootoogook used humour and subtlety to highlight the incongruous in the everyday and small, magical moments in nature.
His creations have been exhibited in many major galleries and museums around the world and are a part of numerous collections. Most recently, his work was included in the 57th Venice Biennale, which opened in May 2017. Pootoogook was the first Inuit artist to have work included in the international exhibition.
(Info provided by Inuit Art Foundation)