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Owl with Fish in Beak

Osuitok Ipeelee
Owl with Fish in Beak, 1965
dark-green stone
17.4 x 17 x 8 cm
Purchased 1998

Carved from hard, dark green stone, Owl with Fish in Beak combines observation from nature with a number of sculptural qualities that have become hallmarks of Osuitok Ipeelee’s work – fine carving, attention to detail, and a remarkable sense of balance. With its bulging eyes, delicately incised feathers, and twisted legs, this seemingly top-heavy creation may appear to be a rather quirky stylization. Yet by accentuating features such as the forward-staring gaze, huge beak, and clutching claws, the artist remains true to the distinctive characteristics of the arctic owl. Visually dynamic and composed in such a way as to invite viewing from all sides, the work demonstrates the kind of imaginative complexity and compositional daring that Osuitok has often excelled at. One of Cape Dorset’s best known artists, Osuitok has been a restless creator, working through, leaving, and returning to a number of themes and stylistic approaches throughout his career. Owl with Fish in Beak adds an early work to his representation in the National Gallery’s collection and is a fine example of his ability to see the ordinary from a different point of view and to make stone do the impossible.