A Closer Look: Itee Pootoogook, Untitled (Man with Hoodie and Sunglasses) (2012)

by Shelby Smith

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Itee Pootoogook (1951 ‑ 2014). Untitled (Man with Hoodie and Sunglasses). 2012. Coloured pencil and graphite on paper. 49.5 × 64.8 cm. Collection of Christopher Bredt and Jamie Cameron.

“This drawing is quiet, as are many of Itee’s others—still, calm. But if we take the time the image requires—and time, like quietude, is an element required in viewing Itee’s work—we begin to read the clues. The season in which this figure is set is not winter. We know this because the figure looks out over open water and is clothed not in a parka but only in a hoodie. Even though he is turned away from us, we can assume that he is squinting; one mittened hand is held up to shield his eyes, and the sunglasses that would have offered protection are worn back to front. He is looking out over the water, but we know he is not on a boat because the three figures reflected in his wraparound sunglasses—the figures behind him—are standing or walking on the land. The glasses also reveal to me what I had missed on first looking at this drawing: the orange background against which the figures are set is not one of Itee’s sublime flaring sunsets but the fluorescent UV coating of the mirrored lenses themselves.

—Meeka Walsh

You can see this piece and many more in-person at the Douglas Family Art Centre until April 2, 2022. We are open Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm.

Click here to learn more about Itee Pootoogook: Hymns to the Silence.

Did you know?

The name “Kenora” is a portmanteau of the names of local towns Keewatin, Norman, and Rat Portage— KE from Keewatin,  NO from Norman, and RA from Rat Portage.