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Billy Apple Frieze (A Section)

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Billy Apple, Frieze (Red), 2005, acrylic on canvas, 800 x 1800 mm. Image courtesy of Gow Langsford in association with Starkwhite Billy Apple's 'Withdrawn at the Request of Sue Crockford Gallery' as installed at Gow Langsford Gallery The exhibition 'Frieze' at Gow Langsford in 2005 The original signage for the 'Frieze' exhibition Billy Apple mural at Gala cafe in Mt. Eden. Image courtesy of Over The Net Billy Apple, Billy Apple TM, acrylic on canvas, 620 x 1000 mm. Image courtesy of Gow Langsford in association with Starkwhite Billy Apple mural in the foyer of Old South British Building. Image courtesy of Starkwhite

Looking at the canvas of Apple's frieze, we can see how he later adapted it for his mural in the Gala café to fit in with the interior architecture, and exploited the fact that the whole Christian-named apple, leaf and stalk was not necessary for modular repetitions along the wall: small parts would suffice (functioning as visual synecdoche) where the wall had been cut away for the servery.

Auckland

 

Billy Apple
Withdrawn at the Request of Sue Crockford Gallery

 

27 May - 20 June 2015

In this Kitchener Street exhibition Billy Apple presents a single modestly sized painting - by itself - in a predetermined position on the gallery wall. The exact position is where this long horizontal canvas was intended to be exhibited in a group show called Frieze almost ten years ago, in November 2005, but withdrawn at the last minute. Apple’s then dealer, Sue Crockford asked for the work to be withdrawn, leaving a hole in a series of butted together canvases that formed a continuous line running round the gallery.

Whatever Crockford’s reasons - they may have been to do with her earlier refusal of another of her artists to also show in another venue (an act of consistency) - it seems churlish of Apple to bemoan the ‘subtraction’, publically slap his ex-dealer down, and act the martyr.

Nevertheless it is terrific to see this work now, by itself in the gallery (an image you can imagine horizontally extended on to all of the walls) - especially as it would have been superior to the other works in the exhibition. Apple, cunning strategist that he is, knows this, and that - for all his wounded pride - the simplified (one artist) version of the show makes a very good adjunct to the Barton curated survey across the street.

Looking at the canvas of Apple’s frieze, we can see how he later adapted it enlarged for his mural in the Gala café (in Edwin St, Mt. Eden) to fit in with the interior architecture, and exploited the fact that the whole Christian-named apple, leaf and stalk was not necessary for modular repetitions along the wall: small parts would suffice (functioning as a visual synecdoche) where the wall had been cut away for the servery.

Later on he did a green version, but with the ® added near the base of the now registered fruit logo. This Apple mural can be seen in the foyer of the Old South British Building on the corner of High and Shortland Streets. The registration (R) of the Apple logo as representing the Billy Apple company brand was a development after the registration of the TM trademark, the latter’s painting currently on display in the Wellesley Street Gow Langsford window.

Despite the childish petulance of its title, this handy little show reminds us just good (physically and conceptually) Apple can be - especially if you check out the two self-promoting murals in person. They are advertisements that double as artworks, in the specific sense of loudly proclaiming their producer as content-maker about himself. Chest thumping in the most elegant and refined way.

John Hurrell

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