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Notes from DaVic Gallery: Relaxing is a wonderful representation of Toonoo’s ability to capture Inuit life as it is, conveying its beauty in its simplicity. Departing from the style of drawing we know as Inuit art, Toonoo takes us on literal and metaphorical journeys of a life few of us have seen firsthand.
This offering from Jutai Toonoo is no exception. What can be a simpler subject than a body in repose? Many a painter over millennia depicted a variety of subjects at rest. Here, too, is a body of a woman, in a sitting position, leaning to one side, with her legs crossed and her arms passively draped over the legs. What’s intriguing about this composition, however, is the fact that only the body below the neck is being depicted. It might be because Toonoo shied away from drawing other people’s portraits fearing they may not like them.
As it turns out, we don’t need to see the facial expression of a person to know what they may be feeling because we can read their body language. We are, however, left to wonder about this woman’s story. How young is she? What was she doing prior to needing this rest? What are her everyday labours? Since the only piece of clothing we see is a bra, does it mean she is at home, feeling comfortable being only partially dressed? Who is around her? What kind of dwelling does she live in? Is it typical for her to sit on the floor rather than furniture as it appears she is doing here?
Despite the big puzzle Toonoo presented to us here, the drawing is also deeply relatable. Who, especially in our busy lives, doesn’t long for a minute or, dare we say, hours of rest? Do we know how to let ourselves just be…stop the endless pursuit of a better life – whatever we deem better – and dwell in stillness? Do we know how to be at peace with ourselves after having done an honest day’s work?
Perhaps you would like to have this drawing in your home or office as a reminder to let yourself off the hook every once in a while and relax… just as this Inuit woman is doing, epitomizing all the weary seeking rest through the ages.
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