He’s the artist who’s never stopped surprising, and sometimes shocking. Nearly 50 years ago he used his own faeces in an art work Excretory Wipings; then just two years ago at age 81, he gifted his excrement to science to prove that our gut microbes define our unique identities.
His gut is not the only thing that makes him unique: his art is world famous.
But there’s one thing he’s never done. He’s never visited the Pacific. Now, pop art and conceptual artist Billy Apple will present an exhibition in Rarotonga for the first time.
At the invitation of gallery owner Ben Bergman and with support from Apple’s Auckland art dealer, Starkwhite, Apple will exhibit seven pieces following his signature Billy Apple Friezes brand collection.
The Billy Apple Friezes feature Apple’s brand logo in bright yellow and green which he originally designed in 1962 while establishing his art brand and changing his name to become a living brand.
The two painted apple halves and whole apple in the Friezes represent the past, present and future.
Apple says he is always traveling and exhibiting his artwork and has for 60 years exhibited around Europe, The United States, Australia, Asia, New Zealand and now, the Cook Islands.
Apple who is originally from Auckland, New Zealand studied graphic design at the Royal College of Art in London.
Born in 1935 and fascinated by the consumer driven nature of American culture, Apple moved to New York in 1964, producing pop-related paintings and neon sculptures and has even been exhibited alongside pop artists like Andy Warhol.
Apple says he is really looking forward to coming to Rarotonga and touring the island on his five-day stay.
“I’ve never been to the Pacific and I don’t know what to expect but I’m hoping for some warm weather,” he says.
Keeping an open mind, Apple says he may find some art inspiration in Paradise.
Apple says it’s wonderful that Rarotonga has a gallery of such a high stature and has been planning an exhibition with Bergman gallery for a while now.
Apple has taken inspiration from gallery owner Ben Bergman whose family has been in the pearl business for a very long time.
There will be two special pieces in Apple’s exhibition that have been painted with black and white pearlescent automotive paint.
The white pearlescent piece with Billy Apple’s design was first commissioned in 2014 for Bergman who is also a pearl dealer.
“Actually Billy didn’t know that I deal in black pearls so Billy did a follow up piece this time with black pearlescent paint,” said Bergman.
Bergman says it’s incredibly exciting to have Apple, a pop artist who is still alive coming to Rarotonga.
He says “It’s a great opportunity to experience art that usually can only be seen in art museums in New York or Los Angeles.”
It’s a big thing for the gallery says Bergman and it will be open to the public next Tuesday at 6pm.
Apple’s pieces will also be up for up sale and Bergman is encouraging everyone to take advantage of ‘Billy Apple in Rarotonga’