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Inuit artist Kananginak Pootoogook dies

Kananginak Pootoogook, one of Nunavut's premier visual artists and a longtime member of Cape Dorset's world-famous Inuit print studio, has died. He was 75.
Kananginak Pootoogook, seen working in Cape Dorset in 2001, died on Tuesday at the age of 75. ((CBC))
Kananginak Pootoogook, one of Nunavut's premier visual artists and a longtime member of Cape Dorset's world-famous Inuit print studio, has died. He was 75.

Pootoogook died on Tuesday in Ottawa from complications from surgery for lung cancer. He had been battling illness in hospital for a number of months.

Born in a traditional Inuit camp near Cape Dorset in 1935, Pootoogook worked with a variety of artistic media, including lithography, etching and stone sculpture.

He was instrumental in the creation of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative in Cape Dorset, which has produced many Inuit art prints since the late 1950s.

His first print, a collaborative image with his father, was part of the first catalogued collection of Cape Dorset prints in 1959.

Mating Dance, a 1978 lithograph by Cape Dorset artist Kananginak Pootoogook. ((Feheley Fine Arts))

Pootoogook's works have depicted Arctic wildlife, especially birds, and traditional Inuit culture. Some of his works are on display at Feheley Fine Arts, a gallery in Toronto's Yorkville neighbourhood.

In 1997, Pootoogook was commissioned by then-governor general Roméo LeBlanc to build an inukshuk as part of a tribute to Canada's aboriginal peoples.

The inukshuk was built in Cape Dorset, then disassembled and transported to Ottawa, where it was reassembled at Rideau Hall.

In addition to his creative work, Pootoogook also served as the West Baffin co-operative's first board president.

Earlier this year, Pootoogook received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for his work in the arts.