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Manasie Akpaliapik

 (born 1955)
Manasie Akpaliapik is active/lives in Quebec, Northwest Territories, Nunavut / Canada.  Manasie Akpaliapik is known for Inuit carving and mixed media figure, genre, arctic wildlife and cultural symbolism.

Manasie Akpaliapik

Biography from the Archives of askART

Manasie Akpaliapik (1955)

An important Canadian sculptor, Manasie Akpaliapik was born in a hunting camp on northern Baffin Island, North West Territories (now Nunavut). In 1967 his family moved to Arctic Bay (a village on northern Baffin Island); since 1980 he's lived in Montreal, Quebec; Toronto, Ontario; and currently (2013) Ottawa, Ontario. His life and work are discussed in most of the recent books on Inuit art and Canadian art. His carvings have been featured in numerous landmark exhibitions and they're prized acquisitions in prominent public collections. His biography has been included in Canadian Who's Who since 1993.

Akpaliapik's mediums include fossilized whalebone*, stone, bone, antler, tusk, ivory, baleen and mixed mediums; his works are often composed of several pieces of different materials. His subjects are figures, faces, genre, shamans, symbolism, spirituality, mythology, allegory*, whimsy, fantasy, dreams, humor, arctic wildlife, and social commentary. Unlike traditional Inuit carvers whose style is usually described as Primitive Art*, Akpaliapik is a Modernist*, his styles also include Realism*, Expressionism* and Surrealism*. The AskART images are good illustrations of his range. Lament for the Arctic Ocean is a good example of one of his trademark masterworks; in it he animates a whole section of whalebone while at the same time maintaining its natural character and integrity.

He lived a nomadic life until he was 12 years old when the family settled in Arctic Bay. His primary artistic influences were his grandparents artists Peter and Elisapee Ahlooloo (see AskART). Akpaliapik became a professional artist after moving to Montreal in 1980.

Since the mid 1980s, Akpaliapik's carvings have been included in numerous important exhibitions, such as "Uumajut: Animal Imagery in Inuit Art", Winnipeg Art Gallery*, Manitoba (1985); "Building on Strengths: New Inuit Art from the Collection", Winnipeg Art Gallery (1988); "Arctic Mirror", Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Quebec (1990); "Borealis: Inuit Images of Man and Animals", Freeport Art Museum and Cultural Centre, Freeport, Illinois (1992); "Inuit Art: Drawings and Recent Sculpture", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1992); "New Territories: 350 - 500 Years After: An Exhibition of Contemporary Aboriginal Art of Canada", Maison de la culture Mercier, Montreal (1992); "Inuit Art on the Mezzanine: New Acquisitions", Winnipeg Art Gallery (1992); "Multiple Realities: Inuit Images of Shamanic Transformation", Winnipeg Art Gallery (1993); "The Inuit Imagination", Winnipeg Art Gallery (1994); "Inuit Art from the Canadian Arctic", Bayly Art Museum, University of Virginia, Charlottesville (1994); "Keeping Our Stories Alive: An Exhibition of the Art and Crafts from Dene and Inuit of Canada", Institute of American Indian Arts Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico (1995); "Head and Face: Selected Views of Inuit Sculpture", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1996); "The Transformative Power of Art", Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2005); and "Arctic Spirit: Inuit Art from the Albrecht Collection at the Heard Museum", Heard Museum, Phoenix (touring the USA 2006 - 2011). Recently, his works were included in "Creation & Transformation: Defining Moments in Inuit Art" at the Winnipeg Art Gallery from January 25, 2013 to April 14, 2013.

In 1990 the Winnipeg Art Gallery hosted the solo exhibition "Manasie: The Art of Manasie Akpaliapik". His works have also been included in solo and group exhibitions at  the Marion Scott Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.; Spirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.; The Innuit Gallery of Eskimo Art, Toronto, Ontario; Images Art Gallery, Toronto, Ontario; Isaacs/Innuit Gallery, Toronto, Ontario; Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec, Montreal; Images BorĂ©ales Galerie d'Art Inuit, Montreal; Art Space Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Arctic Inuit Art Gallery, Richmond, Virginia; Arctic Artistry, Scarsdale, New York; Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Verona, Italy; and Galerie Saint Merri, Geneva, Switzerland.

Akpaliapik's works are avidly collected, they're frequently traded on the auction market, and they're in several important museum collections. According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, his works are in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Art Gallery of Windsor (Ontario), Canadian Museum of Civilization (Gatineau, Quebec), Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art (Norman, Oklahoma), Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona), Mackenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan), Museum of Inuit Art (Toronto, Ontario), Quebec Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec City), Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba) and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa). They're also in the Lorne Balshine Inuit Art Collection on display at Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver, B.C.

Some of his honors and awards include a Canada Council Grant (1989); Canadian representative at the Ainu Cultural Society Conference in Shiraoi, Hokkaido, Japan (1989) (2); Board member of the Inuit Art Foundation (1990); cover of Inuit Art Quarterly (1990 and 1993); cover art for the book The Inuit Imagination: Arctic Myth and Sculpture (1993); and he was the subject of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary Cry of the Ancestors (1994).
(1) Please note: The Canadian Heritage Information Network* and list several alternate names for this artist; they are: Akpaliapik Akpaliapik, Paneeloo Akpaliapik, Akpaliapi Akpaliapik, Akpaleapik Akpaliapik, and Akpialik Akpaliapik. There is also his Canadian government issued Inuit Disc Number* - E51155 - which may be used to sign works, and his signature in syllabics*, which is frequently used to sign works.

(2) The Ainu are the aboriginal people of northern Japan. They were colonized by the people of southern Japan in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries in much the same manner as other indigenous peoples in other parts of the world. Their grievances with the government of Japan have similarities (land, culture, religion, recognition, etc.) to those of Native Americans with the governments of Canada and the USA. Source: Ainu Association of Hokkaido website.
Canadian Who's Who 2012 - 2013" (2012), edited by Anderson Charters and Susan Charters (see AskART book references)

Creation & Transformation: Defining Moments in Inuit Art (2012), edited by Darlene Coward Wight (see AskART book references)

The Visual Arts in Canada: The Twentieth Century (2010), by Brian Foss, Anne Whitelaw, Sandra Paikowsky (see AskART book references)

Arctic Spirit: Inuit Art from the Albrecht Collection at the Heard Museum (2006), by Ingo Hessel (see AskART book references)

Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)

An Annotated Bibliography of Inuit Art (2001), by Richard C. Crandall and Susan M. Crandall (see AskART book references)

Canadian Art: From its Beginnings to 2000 (2002), by Anne Newlands (see AskART book references)

Inuit Art: A History (2000), by Richard C. Crandall (see AskART book references)

Sculpture of the Inuit (2000), by George Swinton (see AskART book references)

Inuit Art: An Introduction (1998), by Ingo Hessel and Dieter Hessel (see AskART book references)

The Inuit Imagination: Arctic Myth and Sculpture (1993), by Harold Seidelman and James Turner (see AskART book references)

Biographies of Inuit Artists (1993), compiled and published by the Inuit Art Section, Indian and Northern Affairs (see AskART book references)

Sculpture of the Inuit (1992), by George Swinton (see AskART book references)

Canadian Heritage Information Network*

National Gallery of Canada

Art Gallery of Ontario

Images Boréales Galerie d'Art Inuit, Montreal

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.


** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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Photo by John Fowler (1989). Courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada.

About  Manasie Akpaliapik

Born:  1955 - Baffin Island, Northwest Territories (Nunavut)
Known for:  Inuit carving and mixed media figure, genre, arctic wildlife and cultural symbolism