George Arlook

Born May 5 1949 (Winnipeg, Manitoba) – 2023

Arlook lived in Rankin Inlet from 1956 to 1975. He began to teach himself how to carve at the age of nine and sold his first piece for 75 cents in 1960. Arlook is the fourth child from a family of seven and is the only one who carves. He spent his early childhood in Eskimo Point (now called Arivat) and has always considered it to be his home. His father, Sevuoi Aiyarani, was also a carver. Charlie Panigoniak, his brother, is a well-known singer and songwriter in the north. George traveled extensively, and has lived and worked in Rankin Inlet, Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet, Winnipeg, and Churchill, Manitoba. By 1968, George was becoming known as a very talented and original artist

While working with a variety of different stone types and experimenting with other media, Arlook has stretched his artistic vision in a contemporary style, all the while paying homage to the cultural and artistic traditions of the Keewatin master sculptors to which he is the heir. By the mid- 70s he had developed a highly unique style of semi-abstraction and became famous for it.

The art of George Arlook appears as non-traditional in many ways. He likes to depict single figures such as drum dancers, hunters, or mothers with babies in their hoods, as well as his favorite animal, the muskox. Sometimes he groups figures together to form abstracted compositions of gently curving forms that undulate rhythmically. Arlook’s sculptures often have antler parts that protrude in complex patterns from the stone. As one of the foremost Inuit artists in the Keewatin Region, Arlook works in a highly formalized abstract expression, a departure from the more realistic depiction of Inuit life and art common to other artists. This form of expression is characteristic of the great master sculptors John Tiktak, John Pangnark and John Kavik, all of whom exercised considerable influence over the young Arlook, as he served his “apprenticeship” as a carver under their tutelage in Rankin Inlet. Arlook’s current work is a tribute to his teachers and an extension of the form through his highly personalized rendering of various themes.