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The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka at LACMA Ocula Report The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka at LACMA 18 Jan 2019 : Perwana Nazif for Ocula

The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (9 December 2018–23 June 2019) is billed as the first comprehensive survey of Sri Lankan art organised by a U.S. museum, with around 240 works—including decorative objects, textiles, photographs, and historical works from the museum's own collection of Sri Lankan...

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Ellen Pau Ocula Conversation Ellen Pau Artist

A radiographer by training, Ellen Pau is a self-taught artist who emerged from Hong Kong's fledgling contemporary art scene of the late 1980s, when video was a comparatively nascent medium. In 1986, Pau co-founded Videotage—a non-profit organisation that specialises in the promotion and preservation of video and new media art. Pau has an...

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Singapore Art Week: Exhibitions to See Ocula Report Singapore Art Week: Exhibitions to See 18 Jan 2019 : Tessa Moldan for Ocula

S.E.A. Focus, the new boutique art fair by STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, will take centre stage during this year's Singapore Art Week (19–27 January 2019). Running between 24 and 27 January 2019, 26 galleries will participate in the inaugural edition, showcasing modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art within a pop-up structure in...

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Billy Apple

b. 1935, New Zealand

Billy Apple is a pioneer pop and conceptual artist who, though born in New Zealand in 1935 as Barrie Bates, reinvented himself in 1962 as 'Billy Apple' after studying graphic design at the Royal College of Art in London. The change in name (accompanied by dyed-blonde hair) exemplified Apple's interest in the mechanisms of commerce and branding. His constructed identity became a marketing device for which he later developed a fruit-shaped logo, then internationally registered as a trademark in 2008.

Apple's 'folksy' first name and vegetative surname were irrevocably merged with his artist's body (and new persona) to become an artwork. All activities undertaken by that body—such as cleaning windows or vacuuming the floor—and its by-products—like nasal mucus, semen, earwax or faeces—in the early 1970s became artworks too. No matter how difficult, they were works that could eventually be sold through dealers and galleries.

In the early 1980s, Apple began to look at the underpinning principles of fiscal exchange dominant in the art world by presenting neatly designed screenprints or paintings—executed by professional sign writers—of text that articulated the conventions of capital transactions such as selling, bartering, IOUs, commissioning or the paying of the artist's bills. The text paintings or prints stated the rudimentary details of each transaction. With this system, Apple shrewdly used the brand to perpetuate itself by drawing in funds from the sales of the works to sustain the thinking body that drove the brand. More recently and to the same end, he has sold conceptually connected products like Billy Apple Cider, or specially grown fruit, Billy Apples.

Such an interest in perpetuation applies beyond the brand to versions of Apple's physical body as well. In particular, four works shown in his 2018 solo exhibition Billy Apple Six Decades 1962-2018 at Rossi & Rossi in Hong Kong dealt with immortality. The two paintings (The Artist Will Live Forever [2016] and I Consent [2009/2015]), video (The Immortalisation of Billy Apple) Stage Two, Billy Apple Cell Line [2010]), and photograph (The Immortalisation of Billy Apple, 2009–15 [2010]), reference Apple's 2009 gifting (as part of a collaboration with geneticist Dr Craig Hilton) of samples of his somatic cell tissue in 2009 to a Massachusetts research organisation and an Auckland laboratory. In both places, the cells are kept alive in special incubators and are studied for cancer research, genetic analysis and possibilities for cloning.

Apple has collaborated with scientists on several occasions. In 2016, he began a project with Dr Justin O'Sullivan, a molecular biologist connected to the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland who is interested in the bacterial mini-ecosystems in various human body parts, including the gut. For a project that spans 46 years, Apple twice provided samples of used toilet paper (in 1970 and 2016) to be analysed to see the degree of difference. Of interest to O'Sullivan is how some microbes seem to be selected by each person's genetic make-up to stick around over the course of decades. The 1970 toilet paper was part of Apple's Excretory Wipings, 18 May-21 October 1970 project, originally exhibited in New York in 1971 and later shown briefly in a 1974 Serpentine Gallery survey before being shut down by the London authorities. A new work resulted from his collaboration with O'Sullivan, titled N=1 (2018), which incorporated an analysis of the microbial changes in a chart. The two-panel work was donated by Apple to the Liggins Institute.

Selected exhibitions from Apple's long career include: The American Supermarket, Bianchini Gallery, New York (1964); From Barrie Bates to Billy Apple: 1960-74, Serpentine Galleries, London (1974); Billy Apple: As Good As Gold: Art Transactions 1981-91, Wellington City Art Gallery (1991); Revealed / Concealed, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2009); Billy Apple: British and American Works 1960-1969, The Mayor Gallery, London (2010); and Billy Apple: The Artist Has To Live Like Everybody Else, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (2015).

John Hurrell | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Billy Apple Frieze (Yellow) by Billy Apple contemporary artwork Billy AppleBilly Apple Frieze (Yellow), 2018 UV pigment ink on canvas
24.7 x 40 cm
Hamish McKay
Billy Apple Frieze (Red) by Billy Apple contemporary artwork Billy AppleBilly Apple Frieze (Red), 2018 UV pigment ink on canvas
24.7 x 40 cm
Hamish McKay
Billy Apple Frieze (Green) by Billy Apple contemporary artwork Billy AppleBilly Apple Frieze (Green), 2018 UV pigment ink on canvas
24.7 x 40 cm
Hamish McKay
From the Billy Apple Collection by Billy Apple contemporary artwork Billy AppleFrom the Billy Apple Collection, 2018 UV pigment ink on canvas
40 x 25 cm
Hamish McKay
BRAND NEW by Billy Apple contemporary artwork Billy AppleBRAND NEW Acrylic on canvas
Wall Drawing by Billy Apple contemporary artwork Billy AppleWall Drawing offset poster and pencil
Hamish McKay
THE ARTIST WILL LIVE FOREVER by Billy Apple contemporary artwork Billy AppleTHE ARTIST WILL LIVE FOREVER, 2013 Impregnated ink on canvas
61.8 x 100 cm

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Unsold at Hamish McKay, Wellington
24 November–22 December 2018 Group Exhibition Unsold Hamish McKay, Wellington
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Sampler at Starkwhite, Auckland
17 April–12 May 2018 Group Exhibition Sampler Starkwhite, Auckland

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Billy Apple: In Focus Ocula Report Billy Apple: In Focus 28 Jun 2018 : John Hurrell for Ocula

To present 21 works in Hong Kong, spanning approximately six decades (1962–2018), is an unusual occasion for Billy Apple, a groundbreaking New Zealand-born artist whose pop-infused conceptual practice is mostly acknowledged in New Zealand, England (where he studied and worked from 1959 to 1964) and the United States (where he lived from 1964 to...

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In Related Press

10 Hong Kong Art Exhibitions to see in June Related Press 10 Hong Kong Art Exhibitions to see in June Hong Kong Tatler : 5 June 2018

New Zealand artist Billy Apple seems to have always been in the right place at the right time. In the early 1960s, he moved from Auckland to London and worked alongside artists who would become leading figures in the Pop Art movement, including David Hockney and Pauline Boty.After that he moved on to New York, and in 1964 he collaborated with Andy...

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Three Apple Transactions Related Press Three Apple Transactions EyeContact : 19 February 2017

In this Starkwhite installation of three historic 'Transaction' works - Apple's N.F.S. (1987), his P.O.A. (1987) and his working drawing for an earlier For Sale painting (1961), made by his corporeal and mental predecessor, the artist Barrie Bates, a year before he became the living artwork, Billy Apple - we see an examination of some aspects of...

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Mercurial consistency: Billy Apple Related Press Mercurial consistency: Billy Apple Art Asia Pacific : 4 September 2015

Without question one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most remarkable artists, Billy Apple is nearing 80. His lengthy, and still ongoing, career has encompassed direct involvement in some of the most crucial phenomena of postwar and contemporary art, from Pop to Conceptualism, body art to institutional critique—sometimes all together. While...

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Compatible Partnership or Domination? Related Press Compatible Partnership or Domination? EyeContact : 31 July 2015

With its official opening last Saturday morning, the latest transmutation of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is now open for public inspection, alongside its dazzling new neighbour and partner (by virtue of sharing the same director), the Len Lye Centre. New Zealand Aotearoa’s art communities will watch Simon Rees with interest as he...

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