Zappo 1983

Alternate title: Lightning

Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 160 x 120

signed, dated and titled [on reverse: ‘Howard Arkley.83 / ZAPPO / 1983’; earlier title, ‘Lightning,’ crossed  out]

Estate of Etta and Emmanuel Hirsh

First shown at Tolarno in October 1983 (and thereafter). This was Arkley’s earliest use of this title, also later applied to his ‘Zappo Head’ images; the term, as noted in Spray, relates specifically to drugs and their effects.

This particular composition was first developed in several black and white works: see now 1982 Works on paper (minor)Untitled [Zappo study] (1982) [W/P] and Lightning (1983) (monochrome canvas shown at Roslyn Oxley9 in June-July 1983). Untitled [Zappo study] (1983) [W/P], another monochrome variant, may date from the planning period for the present painting.

The composition was later reprised several times, notably in Zappo (Cityscape mural) 1984 [W/P] and Zappo; and source material (1988 and earlier) [W/P] (shown in Arkley’s ‘Casual Works’ exhibition in 1988, and subsequently acquired by the Queensland Art Gallery).


  • recorded in P/C Melb. in Spray research notes c.1996


  • HA Tolarno 10/83, cat.6
  • Heide 7/86 (Primal Painting: see Nixon 1986 for
  • HA Monash 1991, cat.51
  • HA TarraWarra 12/15-2/16


  • Nixon 1986 (Primal Painting; copy in Arkley’s files)
  • Spray 60-61 (inc.full-page ill.)
  • Carnival 106 and Fig.3.18 (full-page ill.)