For Art Nova 2009 Gavlak presents Phillip Estlund (b. 1974, Athens, Greece), a South Florida-based artist whose work deals with concepts that while at times are more urgent to the region, are also global concerns. Estlund is an observer of nature- both human and environmental- and an explorer of psychological space, physical terrain and raw, found materials. By taking the raw detritus that is left behind from natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes or manmade waste from old construction, he collects and reconfigures these materials as formal sculpture that reflects the "lower" architectural vernacular of South Florida. A sculpture such as Blow Out resembles a mobile home or trailer, the flimsy domestic structures that are ubiquitous throughout Florida and always the first to be destroyed in any natural disaster. Completely constructed from found materials, cardboard, wood, and urethane foam, the home is cut in half and emerging from the wall with a large blue blob exploding from its seam, frozen in time.
Estlund also works obsessively in two-dimensional collage, which further examine this form of mankind's hubris and naivety in his domination of his environment. Nowhere is this more evident than in the vulnerable hurricane and drought region of South Florida. Recently featured in Collage: Assembling Contemporary Art, a historic anthology of collage from Picasso and Duchamp to John Stezaker and Wangechi Mutu, Estlund's collages are again entirely recycled images from old books on landscape, field guides, modernist architecture, hunting and fishing, and "Do it Yourself" home improvement. Images of fine upscale interiors, people in leisure and recreational activities are laid over and collaged onto found pieces of wood and rusted metal that have some kind of existing markings, which ultimately relate to architectural forms or indicate some kind of landscape. Estlund's longstanding influences are artists and architects such as Buckminster Fuller's notion of utopia and human possibility, Gordon Matta-Clark's selection and aestheticized architectural elements, and the chaos and irrationality of Dada. Following these art historic traditions, Estlund presents theories of destruction as a creative force and assemblage as deconstruction that possesses aesthetic value.
In addition to a solo exhibition at Gavlak in December 2007, Estlund was recently in three exhibitions in New York: Fit to Print at Gagosian Gallery (980 Madison Ave.), I Won't Grow Up at Cheim and Read, curated by Beth Rudin DeWoody and Donald Baechler, and Pulp Fiction at Eleven Rivington. Estlund is in the collection of Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami and was included in their exhibition Pivot Points 2: New Mythologies, curated by Bonnie Clearwater. His work is included in the survey of collage, Collage: Assembling Contemporary Art published by Black Dog Publishing, and recently written about in The New Yorker, The Palm Beach-Broward New Times, and Art Basel Miami Beach Magazine.