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Almine Rech-Picasso Goes Global Ocula Conversation Almine Rech-Picasso Goes Global

French gallerist Almine Rech-Picasso opened her first space in Asia on Shanghai's historic Bund in July this year, bringing her eponymous gallery's total locations to five. The Shanghai gallery occupies roughly 4,000 square feet on the second floor of the three-storey Amber Building, a beautiful warehouse space, originally occupied by the Central...

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From the Gallery to the Streets: Home Works 8 in Beirut Ocula Report From the Gallery to the Streets: Home Works 8 in Beirut 8 Nov 2019 : Nat Muller for Ocula

There's an inside joke amongst the team of Ashkal Alwan, The Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts: that every time an edition of its biennial forum on cultural practices is planned, a national crisis happens. The eighth edition of Home Works was no different: it opened on 17 October amidst the most devastating wildfires that Lebanon had witnessed...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
Sponsored Content | Mazzoleni Gallery
Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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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).

Biography by John Hurrell | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Brand New by Billy Apple contemporary artwork
Billy AppleBrand New, 2006 UV impregnanated ink on canvas
50 x 50 cm
Hamish McKay
Billy Apple® is N=1 by Billy Apple contemporary artwork
Billy AppleBilly Apple® is N=1 (detail). Mixed media. Collection of the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland.
Starkwhite
Billy Apple® by Billy Apple contemporary artwork
Billy AppleBilly Apple®, 2017 Acrylic on linen
80 x 80 cm
Starkwhite
FROM THE KUNST COLLECTION by Billy Apple contemporary artwork
Billy AppleFROM THE KUNST COLLECTION, 2018 Gold and titanium white on linen
50 x 50 cm
Starkwhite
FROM THE PRIVATE COLLECTION by Billy Apple contemporary artwork
Billy AppleFROM THE PRIVATE COLLECTION, 2018 Silver and titanium white on linen
50 x 50 cm
Starkwhite
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

Recent Exhibitions

View All (15)
Contemporary art exhibition, Billy Apple® and Tāme Iti, Flagged at Starkwhite, Auckland
Closed
8–12 October 2019 Billy Apple® and Tāme Iti Flagged Starkwhite, Auckland
Contemporary art exhibition, Billy Apple, Billy Apple® is N=One at Starkwhite, Auckland
Closed
11 April–5 May 2019 Billy Apple Billy Apple® is N=One Starkwhite, Auckland
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Unsold at Hamish McKay, Wellington
Closed
24 November–22 December 2018 Group Exhibition Unsold Hamish McKay, Wellington

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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