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Minam Apang

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1980, Naharlagun, Arunachal Pradesh, India
Lives and works in Mumbai

Minam Apang’s splattered drawings with delicate lines and contours reflect a very idiosyncratic process of spontaneity and deliberation. Straddled between two locations of her native “paganism” and Christian schooling, she attempts to foreground questions of belonging. Influenced by folktales and myths of her native land, she fuses these narratives with her unrestrained fluency in drawing.

Education

2005

Masters of Fine Art, Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai, India

2002

Bachelors of Art (studio art), Elmhurst College, IL, USA

 

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LIFE AND WORK

UNDERSTANDING Minam Apang

Traditions of oral narratives and folktales provide the artistic frames

Minam’s origins in the state of Arunachal Pradesh led her to a rich tapestry of folktales and myths. The oral traditions and other narratives made a stimulating foray in her creative process and this context has found an influence on her works. Various characters and narratives recur in her works, lending her an authentic location for belonging.

This is not without any conflict and sense of dislocation. Along with the “pagan” and tribal initiations in her childhood, she attended school in the hill station in Mussoorie within a strict Christian environment. This provided her duality of existence and later an exploration in this hybridity.

The Wind in the Hall of Mirrors series, 2011, delve into the myth of the abandoned deformed boy who was killed by a hunter’s arrow, as a result of which the wind was born.

Minam Apang, Wind in the Hall of Mirrors III, inkjet print on archival paper, 10 x 12.25”.

Animal figures are constructed with a mythical touch

Animals form recurring figures in Minam’s oeuvre. They are rendered with a surreal touch with the figurations visible but deployed within fantastical lines. Growing up in place with an abundance of animals and with fables floating in animal imageries, they started seeping into her practice as prime figures in driving her aesthetic notions. They are positioned in a dream-like state, some playfully constructed while maintaining a mythical posturing of the animals.

Her “War with the Stars”, 2008, exhibition recalls a myth about a fight that broke out between the Fish-people and the Star-people over a sacrifice. 27 Martyrs, 2008, from this exhibition are made with her similar technique of splatter and drawing, the outlines with an expressionist smudge and the scales of the fish in a controlled manner. The fish are playfully positioned upright with little legs balancing them, staying true to the visual rendition of the myth.

Minam Apang, 27 Martyrs, 2008, ink, ballpoint pen on handmade paper, 21.5 x 29.75”.

Hybrid creatures populate her drawings

Minam’s world is populated by mythical and hybrid animals, beasts and insects, all of them carefully mapped out on her drawings. From a distance they offer a vision of something else, but upon close reflection, these figurative forms become more noticeable, all densely positioned all over according to her set narrative. This calls for a precision and discipline in setting precise pieces of forms to occupy the topography of her drawings.

Her He Wore Them Like Talismans All Over His Body, 2008, upon first glance, seems like the figure of a bat with the wings outstretched, but coming closer to the space within the contours of the bat-like outlines, figures begin to appear. Distorted human figures, beasts standing upright on hind legs, fish floating around, other hybrid creatures—all of them reveal a constructed individuality to narrate a larger story together.

Minam Apang, He wore them like talismans all over his body, 2008, ink, acrylic and tea on fabriano cold-compressed paper, 54.5 x 72.5”.

Minam Apang, He wore them like talismans all over his body (detail), 2008, ink, acrylic and tea on fabriano cold-compressed paper, 54.5 x 72.5”.

Personal and cultural history informs Minam's works

Minam Apang’s practice is one marked by a spontaneity that is derived from the subconscious and a deep personal and cultural history. Her works do not possess a high representational quality but introduces a uniquely idiosyncratic patterning of both awry splatters and crisp lines and contours that narrate the context. Situated within personal, mythical and cultural frames, the images are straddled between different narratives, contexts and histories. They have a fresh free-wheeling nature with a nuanced deliberation in the way the drawings are produced.

For her drawings she follows both a careful and intuitive process for their execution. She mainly uses paper as her medium, and this paper, which is the base, becomes the subject of the initial process. She would splatter ink or anything else that is close by on the paper including cola and whiskey; then play around by folding and unfolding to create patterns and unrestricted forms to ultimately create a messy surface, which is then left to dry. After which she would use water-based fountain pens to create the “drawings” on the dried up surface. Later in her career, she starts scanning her drawings, mirrors and layers them on Photoshop and then prints the final image, as seen in her exhibition “Death in the Rainforest”, 2011.

Minam Apang, The Jester King, 2007, ink and acrylic on paper, 54 x 58.5”.

Minam Apang, Copy-Void IV, 2011, inkjet print on archival paper, 29.5 x 20.75”. From “Death in the Rainforest”, 2011 at Chatterjee and Lal, Mumbai.

Bibliography