Harold Qarliksaq

Harold Qarliksaq (1928 – 1980)
Baker Lake, Nunavut, Canada

Qarliksaqls parents, Utak and Qajaviniq, were Hanningajuqmiut from Hanningajuq, located 150 miles northwest of Baker Lake. Urak and Qajaviniq also travelled in search of caribou and fish in the Akiliniq area. Qarliksaq married Martha Apsaq ([930-1995), who became a talented textile artist known for her embroidered wall hangings. The family first arrived in Baker Lake in 1958 when starvation caused the death of many Inuit in the Keewatin region. Caribou migration routes had changed in the late 19505 and people were brought in to the community by the federal government tO avoid further deaths. They moved reluctantly into the settlement in 1970 when the federal government instituted a policy of mandatory formal education. After 10 years in Baker Lake, Qarliksaq died suddenly of a heart attack in 1980 while out hunting. Qarliksaq started drawing shortly after moving into Baker Lake in 1970.

Qarliksaq’s art is based on his supple and unique line, which articulates forms while providing minute detail and varied texture. The artist’s compositions are complex webs of line that define the intricate coils and textures of harpoon lines and dog harnesses, or demarcate the footprints of animals and humans as they leave evidence of their activities in the telltale snow. The artist’s thorough and affectionate knowledge of his subject matter is immediately apparent. One of Qarliksaq’s graphic style is the use of multiple perspectives in a single work to express spatial and temporal changes. His use of different orientations evokes a sense of the vastness of the land and movement through the land by a migratory people who changed campsites frequently. Some of Qarliksaq’s drawings are built from the repetition and variation of particular forms such as the fish in Men Jiggling Fish or Men of the Caribou. The subject matter in Qarliksaq’s drawings is primarily about the practices of everyday life.

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