A work of art! Artist Christopher Florentino (known as “Flore”) returned to Art Basel in Miami on Tuesday, November 30 to showcase his creative and colorful work at the Context Art Fair with Art Angels Gallery. The world’s largest contemporary art fair, Basel brings together artists and collectors from all over the world — including celebs like Olivia Rodrigo, Lizzo and Hailey Bieber.
And this year marked Flore’s eighth Basel experience. “This one was really special because the artists were just locked away for Covid for two years, so they were making the best work they ever made and it showed,” the Miami-based painter exclusively told Us Weekly. “Every single art fair — there’s, like, 10 different art fairs going on at one time — every one had brilliant work. So, for me to participate in that, it was nice to see all my peers really dig deep and make some beautiful work.”
Originally known for his street art style, the native New Yorker had only shown his “Urban Cubism” series in the past. “In the beginning when I first started making art, I was this raw artist, a New York artist, into just street and kind of graphic art,” Flore said. “My palette wasn’t really refined yet. And as I got older and started putting time in the studio, I realized the texture and the messiness of those graphic paintings is what I really, really loved. I’m obsessed with abstract expressionism, and I think it’s the true New York style.”
Flore’s newfound passion led to his exploration of modern art in 2017. And this year’s Basel featured the debut of the artist’s modern series. “It’s sophisticated, it’s gesture, it’s movement, it’s color. I love that style,” he told Us. “So, I’m painting in that style, and it’s successful, and that just makes me mad happy.” So successful, in fact, that his entire Art Basel collection sold out. Pretty impressive for an artist who has only been on the scene for less than a decade.
Over the course of his career, Flore has gained gallery representation in New York, L.A., Tokyo, Zürich and Beirut. His celebrity clients include J Balvin, Rick Ross and French Montana, not to mention — Queen Bey. “I made two matching denim jackets, one for Beyoncé and one for Blue Ivy,” Flore said. “Her stylist or designer for her tour brought them to her.”
Flore may have crafted custom jean jackets for the Carters, but his primary art form is painting. And yet, he still appreciates the influence of fashion legend Virgil Abloh — the late Louis Vuitton Men’s Creative Director was honored at Art Basel this year after passing away the weekend prior. “He was a true artist. And humble! He always spoke the truth and he was just really passionate about what he did, and I respected him for that,” Flore said. “And that inspired me because I can relate to that. I just want to do my work, and I want to do it well. That’s what I really admired about Virgil is he cared, really cared. He was just someone who cared about his craft, he cared about the quality of the art he made, and not everybody is like that.”
Flore clearly cares about his work, and that passion shows up in his paintings. “That’s kind of what my Urban Cubism paintings are — they’re moments,” he said. “And my modern paintings — to me, they’re just pure energy and gesture. The value of an artist is in which the energy he creates the painting in.”
Next up for the New York artist? An NFT drop on January 7 with Nifty Gateway owned by the Winklevoss twins, Art Wynwood in Miami on February 17 and then Art Palm Beach on March 24.
As for Flore’s future, we know it’s bright. “It’s early in my career,” he said. “I’ve only been doing this for 10 years. Picasso was doing it for, like, 75, so I got a while.”