This work marks a dramatic shift in Ashoona’s subject matter from her Northern surroundings to her imaginings. Toronto artist Shary Boyle (b.1972), who has collaborated with Ashoona on artistic projects, recalls the first time she viewed Composition (Two Men and a Spider): “The moment I encountered this image I felt an instant connection with it.… Look at the pencil-crayon marks, the vertical scratchiness—and the faded, complementary colours. Look at the three points of black. Then step back and see the overall composition: the figures making a pretzel of their arms, entwining fingers, crossing legs—while the tree, beheaded and with spread-eagled roots, wraps an arm protectively around the strugglers…. What really pushes it over the edge for me are the two silent players: the perching tarantula and the stiff green fruit.”
Shuvinai Ashoona: Mapping Worlds
Shuvinai Ashoona, Composition (Two Men and a Spider), 2007–2008
Fineliner pen and coloured pencil on paper, 56 x 76 cm, private collection. Photo credit: Toni Hafkenscheid.