Real Exquisite Taste, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 2020, 60 x 60 inches
I Remember You, Acrylic on Canvas, 72 x 60 in.
I'm Proud of Myself, Acrylic on Canvas, 48 x 48 inches
One of a Kind, Acrylic on Paper, 40 x 30 inches
Words Trying to Grow into Actions, Acrylic and Oil Stick on Canvas, 72 inches x 48 inches
Grey's Anatomy, Acrylic and Oil Stick on Canvas, 60 inches x 48 inches
Be Bold Today, 2019, Acrylic on Canvas, 48 inches x 48 inches
I Am Love 48 x 48' (pink) and Lover of all 48 x 48"
Modern Day Playground 60 x 72 inches
Words trying to grow into actions 72 x 48 inches
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Flore’s New York Beat - Eleanor Heartney
New York pulses with an energy that is all its own. The City’s heady blend of sound, color and movement has provided inspiration for generations of artists and musicians. These range from jazz greats like Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane to the Abstract Expressionists who formed the core of the New York School during the 1950s and 1960s to the vibrant graffiti art scene that flourishes both on the streets and in the galleries. Christopher Florentino is an East Village based painter who goes by the nom de plume of Flore. He has channeled all these energies into paintings that express an aesthetic that he has dubbed “urban cubism”.
Flore’s paintings grow intuitively out of the passing thoughts, feelings and experiences competing for attention inside and outside his head. Passages of handwritten text pile up, scrawled within rectangular boxes that bring to mind post-its or stickers. They express names, advertising slogans, personal reminders, television shows, lyrics. A reference to a rap song may find itself lodged next to a comment on his latest tattoo. Sometimes a word or phrase is written and then crossed out. Or the words may be partially hidden behind another bit of text, in the way that thoughts sometimes crowd each other out. Quickly scrawled cartoon eyes expressing surprise, fear or anger peer out in all directions. Flore refers to these as “the monsters inside my mind.” They mingle with multicolored daisies inspired by Warhol and making reference to the artist’s family name. Curling whiplash lines recall the free form arabesques of Jackson Pollock and the quick scrawl of a graffiti artist’s tag. There are homages to some of Flore’s favorite artists: A crown is a reminder of Jean Michel Basquiat’s personal trademark, pyramids surrounded by rays bring to mind Keith Haring’s radiant symbols, comedic eyes and mock menacing teeth reference the Picassoesque paintings of artist George Condo. The vibrant hues of pink, green, orange and yellow that seep around the edges of the paintings or infiltrate the squares of text and image are inspired by Flore’s love of mid-century modern design. When he says, “I want to be a sponge,” Floreexpresses his desire to be a conduit for all the energies that he feels floating around him.
Like the jazz Flore often listens to as he paints, these works are improvisational. The marks on the canvas take on a life of their own. In his dynamic paintings, texts, colors, symbolic doodles and dancing lines jostle against each other until they almost seem to making music together. In order to create these works, Flore has to let go of any deliberate plan. Starting with a white canvas, he quickly blocks out a basic composition with a crayon. Then he setsout some basic color areas, determining the palette that will dominate the work. The next step is to fill in the squares with texts, bits of graffiti, textures, marks. He may lay more lines over the composition with spray paint or crayon. The result is a dense field of images, words and colors that invite viewers to create their own pathways through the work.
Flore was born into an artistically inclined family in Marine Park, Brooklyn in 1983. His Aunt Weezy, who lived in the family house during part of his childhood, was a particular influence. Weezy was a sculptor and she loved to haunt the art museums of New York City. She took her nephew with her on excursions to the Museum of Modern Art, where Flore encountered Picasso, Jackson Pollock and other artists not normally part of the experience of a young Italian boy from Brooklyn. He recalls intense conversations in which Weezy explained to him why these things were art, and what art might be. As he grew older, these early influences were joined by others. At age 13, bitten by a bug for mid century design, he bought his first piece of furniture – an Eames lounge chair. This was the beginning of what is now an extensive collection that includes works by such esteemed designers as Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Knoll, Eero Saarinen and Herman Miller. Flore’s interest in art also took a more vernacular form when a friend of his older brother introduced him to the street culture of graffiti art. Flore was 7 or 8 years old at the time, and while his career as a street artist was brief, it had a lasting impact on his imagination. From a very early age,he was determined to be an artist. After high school, he enrolled in the Communication/Design program at Brookdale Community College, an institution affiliated with Rutgers University. After graduation Flore worked at a variety of creatively oriented jobs, among them fashion stylist and window designer but never quite believed he could make a living as an artist. That changed after a successful turn as a T-shirt designer when he decided, at age 30, to throw himself into his work. In the six years since he made the decision to commit himself full time to his work as a painter, Flore has found a receptive audience both in the United States and abroad.
The multifaceted nature of Flore’s immersion in art and design manifests itself in his art. While his work feels extremely contemporary and bears an obvious debt to his participation in street art and graffiti, the deeper currents of art history are evident as well. His early introduction to Abstract Expressionism has remained deeply important to him, and one can see its influence in his work, not only in the gestural lines and marks that snake over the canvases, but also in the overall nature of the compositions that insistently draw the eye across the paintings. One can also see the continuing impact of his encounter with Picasso and Willem de Kooning in the breakdown of space into multiple perspectives. The graffiti influence is evident, not only in the snippets of texts, occasionally crossed out in a manner also explored by Basquiat, but also in the graphic quality of the works and the black outlines that define the shapes and separate forms. But Flore’s work is also evolving. In recent works, the black outlines are beginning to give way to a lighter touch in which the lyrical movement of lines seems inspired by artists like Pollock or Cy Twombly. And in fact, along with the text heavy works, he also creates purely abstract paintings that meld the energy of graffiti with the sweeping gestures of Abstract Expressionism.
Flore’s urban cubism is a synthesis of many influences, past and present. But it is above all a tribute to his native city. He lived away from New York for four years in Winter Haven, Florida, where he resided in a modernist Gene Leedy-designed home. There, surrounded by his art and furniture collection he continued to create his trademark paintings. However, Flore found that he missed the vitality of his native city. Now he is back, ensconced in a studio in the East Village. There he pulls together many different strands of art and life to create work that speaks of existence in a place that is always moving, always changing and always completely alive.
Jay Brown, CEO Rock Nation
Keith Haring Museum
Monte Lipman, CEO Republic Records
Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO Hublot
Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Week
Haute Living Celebrates Rick Ross Cover Launch at Marion Miami
Contemporary Artist Flore Debuts First Solo Show at Art Angels Gallery
From the Streets of NY, to Main Street SM, FLORE and Westgard Take On LA!
Street and pop artist Flore exhibits in Hublot Galerie at Design Miami
Pubbelly, Broken Shaker, and the ICA: Flore’s Miami
Here/Now Collaborates With Artist Flore to Paint Denim Bomber Jackets
Meet Christopher Florentino
My House: Street Artist Flore’s Unlikely Midcentury Haven in Florida
Artist Christopher Florentino, Tells About His MidCentury House in Winter Haven, FL
The Ellison Residence by Gene Leedy
Pop Art, Street Art, And Space Age Furniture Collide At A Painter’s Midcentury Ranch Home In Florida
The Art of Passionable by Flore
Something Modern, Art Angels, Los Angeles 2020
The Urban Cubist, Art Angels, Miami 2020
Nobu Miami Beach Hotel Installation, January 2020
Hamptons Art Fair, 2019
Texas Contemporary, 2019
Catch, Los Angeles, 2019
Nobu Miami Beach Hotel Installation, February 2019
Mandarin Oriental, Miami, April 2019
Solo Show, Art Angels, Los Angeles, March 2018
Context, Art Miami Fair, 2018
Live Painting by Flore at Nakamura Keith Haring Museum, April 2017
Scope St. Tropez Art Fair, July, 2017
Scope, Miami Art Fair, December 2017
Solo Show, Eden Fine Art, New York , August 2016
Hublot Exhibit, Art Basel Miami, Dec 2016
Scope New York Art Fair, 2016
Urban Talk, Flore x Banksy x Fenx, Bel Air Fine Art, April 2015
Andy Goes Street Exhibition, Flore x Chris Brown, Gregory Siff, Skyler Grey, Danny Minnick, 2014