22 July, 2007


Darren Knight Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of sculptural works by Billy Apple, Mikala Dwyer, Rob McHaffie, Ricky Swallow and Ronnie van Hout. The exhibition runs from 24 July until 1 September 2007.


Billy Apple was born Barrie Bates in Auckland, New Zealand in 1935. He studied at the Royal College of Art, London, from 1959 to 1962 where he was part of Britain’s pop generation. His name change to Billy Apple in 1962 was an art-branding exercise and he had the first solo pop art exhibition in the UK - Apple Sees Red: Live Stills 1963 (Gallery One, London).

In 1964 Billy Apple moved permanently to New York and became the bridge between the British and American pop art movements. Leo Castelli arranged for Paul Bianchini to show his work, which was curated into the seminal exhibition, American Supermarket 1964 by Ben Birillo, artist and partner in the Bianchini Gallery. This was a groundbreaking installation where art objects were presented using the display techniques of the modern supermarket, repositioning art in relation to the context of commodity culture. It included the great names of American pop art – Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Richard Artschwager, Robert Watts, Claes Oldenburg, Tom Wesselman and Billy Apple.

In 1969 Billy Apple opened the second artist-run alternative space in New York called Apple at 161 West 23rd St and was at the forefront of the emerging conceptual art movement. He exhibited regularly in the New York art scene (112 Greene St Gallery, Leo Castelli Gallery, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and the New Museum) throughout his 26 years of residence there, having gained US citizenship in 1981. On his return to Auckland, New Zealand in 1990, Billy Apple continued to exhibit internationally as well as have works included in survey exhibitions (Tate Liverpool; Museum Fridericianum, Kassel; Queens Museum, New York and The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh).

The two Rainbow works in this exhibition date from Billy Apple’s second solo New York show, Neon Rainbows at the Bianchini Gallery, November 23 - December 14, 1965. Rainbows in neon, translucent acrylic and serigraphs on paper were exhibited in the Bianchini Gallery’s large internal space in a smart high rise on West 57th St. With no outside windows the only light in the space was produced by the neon rainbows installed on the floor. The additive effect of the neon rainbow colors produced a beautiful bright white light, which if refracted separated back into a rainbow spectrum - all the shadows in the gallery were rainbows.

The show hit the mark in New York. None of the pop artists were working with neon and Billy Apple had taken the rainbow, an icon of pop and electrified it to create white light and rainbow shadows. Robert Pincus-Witten wrote that Billy Apple’s rainbows are among the most beautiful that hover over the present scene (Artforum, February 1966) and components of it were curated into exhibitions at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Ileana Sonnabend Gallery, Paris and the Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven.

The translucent acrylic Rainbow here at Darren Knight Gallery is a unique work and the Day-Glo six-color serigraph is a genuine pop multiple. Their spectral vibrancy embody the spirit of 60s pop culture. – Mary Morrison

Billy Apple appears courtesy of Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington.


For this exhibition Mikala Dwyer will construct in the space a new sculptural work, “…a stack of transparent bundles of space.” This work will continue the artist’s interest in ‘empty sculptures’, which have formed an important part of Dwyer’s practice in recent years.


Rob McHaffie’s recent forays into sculpture are unsurprising considering the subject matter of much of his painting oeuvre. Considering portrait painting too problematic, McHaffie turned to sculpting abstracted human forms from plaster and porcelain to use as subjects for his paintings. Now these figures have been developed and have emerged from being the stars of his canvases to works in themselves. The sculpture in this exhibition exemplifies McHaffie’s interest in the loaded sentiment found in the accoutrements of everyday suburban life. Expressing D.I.Y. spirituality, the work must be cared for daily like some sort of votive as the flowers are refreshed in a form of idol, or perhaps idle, worship.


The exhibition will present two new Ricky Swallow bronze sculptures, Last of the Unnatural Acts 2007 and John 'The Wolfking of LA' 2007. These sculptures see Ricky Swallow's interest in historical art and popular music brought together in an unlikely duet.

One half of the work consists of a cover version of St. Mary Magdalen by Donatello (c.1457) from the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence. The other, inspired by the original version of the former and realized in the same, small scale, an interpretation of pop-star John Phillips, as photographed on Malibu beach for the sleeve of his album 'John the Wolfking of LA' (1970) . Phillips (the author of two of the more significant anthems of the late 1960s - 'San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)' and 'California Dreaming') was, at the time, writing and performing as a reluctant solo artist and descending into heroin addiction. The album's superficially optimistic music carries lyrics about heroin use, miscarriage and the breakdown of friendships and of his marriage and thus articulates an end of 'the 1960s'. In Swallow's sculpture the bedraggled Phillips, dressed in fur on a beach is paired with Mary Magdalen in ragged burlap. Giorgio Vasari wrote of Donatello's original depiction: 'She is portrayed as wasted away by her fastings and abstinence' (whilst Phillips suffers from over indulgence).

'The Last of the Unnatural Acts' is the first by Swallow to directly reference the Roman Catholic carvings that were the first sculptures that he experienced as a child. Both figures appear alone, desperate. Separated by 2,000 years, they remain apart, presented on separate plinths: fetishistic figures ready for somebody else's ritualistic worship - Extract from Robert Tufnell's text for Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin exhibition and catalogue, Ricky Swallow 10 May - 23 June 2007

Last of the Unnatural Acts 2007 was part of Ricky Swallow’s recent solo exhibition at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin and will be included in his forthcoming solo exhibition at the Kunsthalle Project Space, Vienna in November 2007.


Ronnie van Hout will be exhibiting a new sculpture titled Failed Robot. A robot that failed to grow up is like looking back at a future that might have been.

In what could be seen as a reversal of the futuristic fascinations of early science fiction, van Hout’s work laments the passing of an age of unbounded imaginings of technological and human potential. Thus we are drawn to consider our relationship with technology in contemporary times, where the lightning speed of development fails to meet with expectations of what a consumer culture should be able to provide, and where romantic visions of robots in the future are notably absent.

For further information please contact Darren Knight Gallery. For images of artworks, and exhibition text by Chloé Wolifson, please refer to Gallery website at www.darrenknightgallery.com

For more information please contact Darren Knight Gallery, Telephone +61 2 9699 5353 Email info@darrenknightgallery.com, Website www.darrenknightgallery.com
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

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