An artist known for her abstract landscapes and references to regional folklore, Minam Apang works with ink and charcoal. While mythology and popular stories were the primary focus of her early work, she later became interested in the psychological experience of familiarity and recognition when viewing an image.
Apang was born in Naharlagun, Arunachal Pradesh. She attended an exchange program at the University of Leeds, UK in 2001 followed by a BA from Elmhurst University, Illinois in 2002 and an MFA from Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai in 2005. After spending a few years in Bengaluru, Apang shifted to Goa in the late 2000s. She experimented with techniques like automatic drawing and working with blemishes or folds in the paper for a few years after graduation, developing an interest in treating images as sites of intuition and recognition, which she would return to, later in her work. In the late 2000s, Apang made ink paintings on paper depicting creatures and landscapes from myths that were part of the oral history of her home state, Arunachal Pradesh, as well as other parts of Northeast India and included some from the writings of Verrier Elwin who had studied the oral history of the region in the early twentieth century. As she travelled and collaborated with other artists, Apang also incorporated folklore from other cultures into her work, notably her installation Hillside Stories: A dog brings the shadow, remembering Hachiko (2009) made during her residency at Arts Initiative Tokyo where she explores the theme of death and memorialisation in the story of Hachiko, a dog famous in Japan for his loyalty to his owner who passed away. In the installation, the mountain peak as well as forms that resemble it — like ripples and waves — became a recurring motif in her later work.
In the 2010s, Apang began to draw on cloth rather than paper and focused more on the process of viewing her work as she made it and less on the stories that inspired her to do so. While still connected to landscapes, her drawings became more abstract through the repetitive use of lines and shapes. Apang frequently allowed the cloth to become creased, after which she developed the crease into strokes with charcoal. The forms in these drawings, inspired by the seascapes in Goa and the mountains in Arunachal Pradesh, are only peripherally recognisable, inviting the viewer to study the drawing, make connections and interpretations and form an image for themselves. She has largely worked with charcoal on cloth since 2014.
Apang has taken part in several major art events and exhibitions during her career, notably, The Lazy Rebels and Boat at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai in 2004 and 2006; How the wind was born at the Hong Kong Art Fair in 2010; the fifth edition of the Prague Biennale in 2011; The Ungovernables as part of the New Museum Triennial in 2012; the India Art Fair and the Lahore Biennale in 2018; and the Dhaka Art Summit in 2018 and 2020. Apang has also had solo exhibitions at her representative gallery Chatterjee & Lal, including War with the stars in 2008; Death in a Rainforest in 2011; and Drawing Phantoms in 2017. In 2002 she received the Sandra Jorgensen Award of Achievement from Elmhurst University and a fellowship at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation at Umbertide, Italy in 2013.
At the time of writing, Apang lives and works in Goa.
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