Apples and Enamel by Lance Wakeling is a series of fifty-five process sculptures—each of which consist of a rotting apple covered in gesso and, then, glossy white (and in two instances, glossy yellow) lead-based enamel paint.
They are process sculptures in the sense that one views each of the apples as an individual art object—yes—but one also views the processes of gravity, entropy, and decay.
These processes are pictured through the artist’s use of the gesso and enamel over the apple’s surface which allows it to flexibly compress without cracking as the apple itself rots away from the inside (one might think of the look of certain Claes Oldenburg “soft” sculptures from the mid 1960s—Soft Toilet, for example).
Thus, the form of the sculpture is in a continual state of transformation.
Eventually, the surface of the apple will compress to the point that it has nowhere else to go, but, at that point, the form of the apple reads as a sign of decay as much as it does a solid form and, as such, one is nudged towards continuing to think of the sculpture in terms of the time of its decay which continues unabated from the inside.
What significance, though, does the apple as the locus of this decay afford the work?
What does an apple do here that, say, a peach or roast beef wouldn’t do?
Well, one could think of the apple as bound up with the Apple corporation—a sort of The Picture of Dorian Gray meets the iPad.
That’s one possibility.
Another would be that on art historical/iconographic level, the apple is perhaps best known to be “forbidden fruit”—desire incarnate as described in the story of Adam and Eve.
And if one is to view the works in the context of the white cube art space on either a pedestal or in a vitrine (which would each mark the work as capital-A-Art), then this reading makes a certain amount of sense.
One could say, then, that the work pictures the glossy white sheen of desire incarnate as much as it pictures this desire’s ongoing decay.