In conjunction with this exhibition we are dropping FLORE's NFT collection "An elephant in the room" with Nifty Gateway
Both collections 3/25
Change is imminent, constant and ongoing. His work is branching in different directions, but it is rooted from the same source. And in a turbulent year marked by self-reflection, the renowned New York City-based fine artist Christopher Florentino—better known by his nom de plume of Flore, [pronounced floor-ee]—visualizes his own artistic evolution akin to that of a tree. Known in the art world for his edgy Urban Cubist series and his most recent body of work—a Moderns series inspired by the principles of Midcentury Modern design—will exhibit a solo show combining the ethos, technique and style of both works at Art Angels LA, opening March 25, 2021.
The contemporary artist whose graphic, text-heavy, graffiti-inspired ‘Urban Cubist’ paintings have earned him Keith Haring comparisons isn’t just interested in one genre and is equally fascinated with the Abstract Expressionism movement of the mid-century. Flore’s latest show, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, showcases his evolution as a painter of the wildly different styles with 10 works that boldly—and unusually—mix what he’s dubbed ‘Urbans’ and ‘Moderns.’ And these aren’t just disparate works tossed together, they’re deliberately paired and juxtaposed to demonstrate the strong thread of similarity that runs through them in unexpected ways.
In his newest series of paintings, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Flore challenged himself to find those commonalities in the purest, most free-flowing way possible: By painting two different series simultaneously. Four of the works are diptychs defined by palette—there’s a red, blue, green and white pair—and all are sized for impact, measuring from 72” x 72” up to 72”x 144.” To create them, he set up dual canvases facing off in his studio. “I’d work on one and then jump to the other, so there’s no bias between them; they evolved individually together,” says Flore. “Everything in the world right now is divided or labeled, but what these two different styles of paintings have in common is their energy—just as we do, as humans. It’s a force that’s invisible but beautiful to perceive.”
The other similarity between these two divergent branches of art is their New York City origins. The East Village-based artist, who grew up in Brooklyn’s Marine Park neighborhood, feels deeply connected to the genre-bending artists and movements that have defined his city. “Both styles are 100% derived from New York, and I think the idea that abstract expressionism as a New York style—marked by artists like William de Kooning, Cy Twombly, Mark Rothko, Roy Lichteinstein—is something younger artists don’t always understand,” explains Flore. “I want to celebrate the fact that these styles stem from the same place, the same place I’m from and love.”
Though he’s faced comments from friends and patrons about how his commitment to mastering two divergent styles has turned him into “two completely different artists,” in the words of one friend, he’s devoted to pursuing both. He’s put in countless hours in the studio, pursuing a maturing technique and a fresh path to self-expression. “The ‘Urbans ‘are who I am, a hip hop street kid from Brooklyn,” Flore says, “but ‘Modern’ is my taste.” He has a long-running love of mid-century modern furniture, which he’s collected from the Alexander Girard period since he was 13 years old, and draws endless inspiration from the period’s exacting and balanced design principles.
Emotionally, his two series do evoke different responses. The ‘Urbans’ are marked by an edgier point of view and more in-your-face narration and themes, while the ‘Moderns’ are open to interpretation and feeling through their colors, textures and movement. That difference is part of the point, says Flore. “There is division, but they reflect each other, they have similarities even as they’re completely different,” he notes. Through their positioning, he hopes to draw a line to the deeper idea that humans, no matter how we divide ourselves, are leaves among branches emerging from the same tree. That message of unity, of togetherness, of a shared purpose and destiny is the message that the world needs right now, the artist believes. “We’ve been forgetting about our communities and our connections, and this series is meant to remind people about the good, love and light that comes of them,” he says.
The symbolism of Flore’s choice of title, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, is also multi-faceted. The ‘tree of heaven’ at the center of Betty Smith’s famous novel represents perseverance and hope amidst hardship, and provided a meaningful, lasting point of connection between generations. Flore’s work seeks to forge those bonds across decades and ages as well—and of course, the artist identifies as a son of Brooklyn himself. His work is both a branch and a bridge between his own artistic interests and pursuits, between people, and between movements in time.