George Arluk (1949 -  )   

George Arluk

The sculpture of George Arluk (Arlook) appears non-traditional in many ways. As one of the foremost Inuit artists in the Keewatin Region, Northwest Territories, 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.

George Arlook was born on May 5, 1949, at the King George Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba (hence the choice of his Christian name). He 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 Arviat), 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 song-writer in the north. George travelled extensively, and has lived and worked in Rankin Inlet, Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet, Winnipeg, and Churchill, Manitoba.

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. By 1968, George was becoming known as a very talented and original artist, He studied the works of Tiktak, Kavik, and Pierre Karlik, and spent many hours in conversation with these artists. As he gained confidence in his ability to work with the hard stone of the Keewatin region, he was encouraged by the older carvers to test his own expression.

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 1970s he had developed a highly unique style of semi-abstraction and became famous for it.

Arlook likes to depict single figures such as drum dancers, hunters, or mothers with babies in their hoods, as well as his favourite animal, the musk-ox. 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.