Axangayuk (Aqjangajuk) Shaa RCA


Cape Dorset - Kinngait

He captures the spirit and vigorous movement for a total effect…concentrating on special interaction, expressive qualities and overall form…his carvings are compact, robust, solid…with outward dynamic forms…

Axangayuk Shaa began carving in his late teens and continued to produce works of strong form and expressive movement throughout his career. He was at the forefront of the Kinngait/Cape Dorset sculptural style which is a combination of observational naturalism and reduction to stylistic and sometimes abstract forms.

A grandson of the carver Kiakshuk and the only child of artists Paunichea and Munamee Davidee, Axangayuk participated in the early drawing projects in Cape Dorset but realized his strengths lay in sculpture. Although he did release a few graphic works through the Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection, including Wounded Caribou 1961, the bulk of his oeuvre involved working with stone. Since 1970, he has had many solo exhibitions, as well as appearing in countless group shows. His work was in the famous 1971-3 touring exhibition “Sculpture/Inuit. Sculpture of the Inuit: Masterworks of the Canadian Arctic.” He was elected to the Royal Canadian academy in 2003. Shaa exhibited across Canada and internationally (across the United States, in Germany, Switzerland, Greenland and France) and his work is in the permanent collections of:
Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Alaska, U.S.A.
Art Gallery of Ontario (Klamer Family Collection and the Sarick Collection), Toronto
Art Gallery of Windsor, Ontario
Art Gallery of York University, Ontario
Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa, Ontario
Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec, Montreal, Quebec
Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Quebec
Dennos Museum Center, Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse City, U.S.A.
Art Gallery of Alberta (formerly Edmonton Art Gallery), Edmonton, Alberta
Inuit Cultural Institute, Rankin Inlet, N.W.T.
James and Mary Jack Collection, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Macmillan-Bloedel Limited, Vancouver, British Colombia
McMaster University Art Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario
McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, U.S.A.
Musee d’Art Contemporain de Montreal, Quebec
Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal, Quebec
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, Brunswick, Maine, U.S.A.
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
The Arnold Aubert Vernon Inuit Collection at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, USA
University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Alberta
Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba
and many other corporate as well as numerous private collections.

He lived in Kinngait/Cape Dorset, Baffin Island with his wife, Kilabuk Shaa (1944- ). They had four sons: Qavavau (1964-91), Pudlalik (1965- ) and Qiatsuq (1971-98) and Alariaq (1978- ). Axangayuk passed away 1 February 2019.

Serpentine is a rock with composition similar to that of Jade, it is quarried on Baffin Island as well as many locations around the world. It is a very hard stone that requires more artistic virtuosity to carve than the softer soapstone; it offers the opportunity to achieve flowing forms, lines bold and delicate, as well as glistening, elegant finishes. Sites for finding the stone are many miles east of Dorset.