New York

Michael Phelan

Andrew Kreps Gallery

Michael Phelan’s exhibition “Bel-Aqua” invited us to contemplate a range of products that might best be described as implacably middlebrow: concentric flowerpots, a faux-granite water cooler, and a wall of blue spring-water bottles. These were interspersed in the coolly elegant installation among freestanding structures made of synthetic materials (Styrofoam planks, tubular shelving, plastic two-by-fours) that evoked swimming pools and exercise equipment, all amplifying the aquatic motif.

Several sculptures incorporate pale turquoise panels reminiscent of John McCracken’s flawless fiberglass slabs. A glance underneath, however, reveals that they’re lightweight, factory-stamped pieces of Styrofoam frosted with Envirotex, a synthetic resin, and fringed with oozy drips. In Bel Aqua Deluxe (all works 1997), these planks perch on metal legs, suggesting a pair (adult- and child-size) of stubby

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