1 oz light rum, 1/2 oz lime juice, 1/2 oz orange curacao, 1/2 oz orgeat syrup, 1 oz dark rum, add 1 maraschino cherry

14/05 > 18/06 2011
Exhibition view
Exhibition view
Exhibition view

More about the exhibition

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JGM. Galerie is pleased to announce the gallery's first Paris solo exhibition of Michael Phelan, 1 oz light rum, 1/2 oz lime juice, 1/2 oz orange curacao, 1/2 oz orgeat syrup, 1 oz dark rum, add 1 maraschino cherry.

Concerning the contemporary American landscape and the role 'language' plays, explicit and implicit- within this contextual framework, "1 oz light rum, 1/2 oz lime juice, 1/2 oz orange curacao, 1/2 oz orgeat syrup, 1 oz dark rum, add 1 maraschino cherry", critically investigates how historically specific models and cultural traditions have been absorbed, co-opted, and repurposed to fit the needs of the popular landscape, engaging the histories of abstraction, conceptual art, and pop culture. Employing both art historical and mass media references the work re-contextualizes/positions mundane & disparate icons of consumer culture with an eye towards both art history & the legacy of Middle America "life-styling".


Phelan's D'où Venons Nous/Que Sommes Nous/Où Allons Nous- a series of commissioned hand-carved 'tiki' busts- is steeped in the history of Paul Gauguin and his years spent in the tropics, specifically his residence in the French colony of Tahiti; and Primitivism- the Western art movement borrowing of visual forms from non-Western people. Analogous to Primitivism, Exoticism by definition, is "the charm of the unfamiliar." Alden Jones defines 'exoticism' as the representation of one culture for consumption by another. Like Gauguin, and his intrigue with and the exotic, so were American soldiers' returning home from World War II- bringing with them stories and souvenirs from the South Pacific. James Michener won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for his collection of short stories, Tales of the South Pacific, which in turn was the basis for 'South Pacific', the 1949 musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Consequently in 1934 the first Polynesian-themed bar and restaurant opened in Hollywood- Don the Beachcomber- credited as being the first tiki restaurant from which all other eateries and bars "borrowed"; as well as singlehandedly having created the tropical drink genre (ie Scorpion, Zombie, Howard Hughes). Three years later, Victor Bergeron, better known as Trader Vic, adopted a Tiki theme for his restaurant in Oakland, and with it, the creation of the Mai-Tai. The rest as they say is history.

Propped, leaning along the gallery walls, Rust Never Sleeps, consists of a series of cast bronze bamboo poles varying in length and width. Similarly, Phelan's nod to Orientalism recalls the 'decorative' bamboo poles ubiquitous among such 'life-stying' import boutiques as Pier 1. Started as a single store in San Mateo, California in 1962, the original store catered to post-World War II  hippy baby boomers looking for beanbag chairs, love beads and incense; later incorporating imitations of aspects of eastern cultures by way of the West. It's title- 'Rust Never Sleeps'- is borrowed from Neil Young's 1979 album by the same name. The title, suggested by Mark Mothersbaugh of the New Wave band Devo, was borrowed by Young from the slogan for Rust-Oleum paint- an aphorism describing Young's musical self-renewal to overcome his growing irrelevance.


Michael Phelan is represented by Mitterrand + Sanz in Zurich.