b. 1986, New York
Lives and works between New York and Kefalonia, Greece
A first-generation Greek-American and native New Yorker, Gerasimos Floratos grew up quite literally at the center of the city in Times Square where he continues to keep a studio. The vibrant dynamism of this milieu is evident in Floratos’s paintings and sculptures, where he draws from the constant yet ever-changing nature of his surroundings to create pictorial abstractions populated by what the artist calls “characters.” Through these amorphous figures—formed from tropes of the city’s denizens—Floratos examines the psycho-spatial architecture of a globalized world from a highly localized perspective. Floratos’s paintings are known for their vivid palette and assertive brushstrokes layered on top of collaged elements and richly textured canvases.
Gerasimos Floratos was born in 1986 in New York. He currently lives and works between New York and Kefalonia, Greece. Recent solo exhibitions of his work include Hymn at Château de Boisgeloup, Gisors (2022); Maps at Almine Rech, Paris (2022); Bismuth at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York (2020); There's a sidewalk inside this gut at Tanya Leighton, Berlin (2019); Slangwich Motel at Schloss, Oslo (2018); 1977 at Eleni Koroneou Gallery, Athens (2018); Soft Bone Journey at Armada, Milan (2017); Big Town at Pilar Corrias Gallery, London (2016) and White Columns, New York (2016), where the artist had his first solo New York exhibition.
All images © Gerasimos Floratos.
The exhibition “Next Door” has featured 14 emerging artists from the “Future” section of the Yuz Foundation collection. Their representative works are placed in the context of “placelessness”, free from the economic status, races, social resources and other factors perceived to be required for neighbouring. Hence, the imaginary “others”, whether alienated or glorified, make their presence felt, defying the physical boundaries, and bringing narratives rooted in diverse cultures and backgrounds to our vision. In this way, the viewers spontaneously amend, dig, and find accounts of “I”, depiction of the “world”, and orchestration of “me” and the “world”.
Imagine going for a stroll, unencumbered by a phone, preoccupied by the glories of the world around you: the perfume of blossoming flowers, the heat radiating from sidewalks, the sound of wind as it moves through and bounces off towering buildings. You might notice a historical landmark you usually miss in the hustle of getting from A to B. Or spot the construction of luxury apartments where working-class housing formerly stood. Perhaps you realize there are fewer bird calls than there used to be. Consciously or not, you are participating in the practice of psychogeography, a radical method of moving through the world more intentionally, in a way that benefits not only the individual but society as a whole. Greek American painter Gerasimos Floratos created a series of collages, drawings, and oil paintings during the pandemic. Titled “Psychogeography,” this oeuvre captures the hectic life around New York City’s Time Square, drawing connections to the equally busy systems within the human body. “For me, psychogeography is about map-making,” Floratos said in the press release for the exhibit, “Mapping the inside of your mind simultaneously with your environment. Not the kind of linear maps we usually use, maps that simultaneously chart sensory data, emotions, memory, the physical body, culture, society etc.”
In 2016, the Musée Picasso-Paris hosted the exhibition Picasso. Sculptures. A recurrent detail appeared throughout the exhibition – a château called Boisgeloup, which appeared on labels under several plasters of Marie-Thérèse Walter, Picasso’s mistress, notably the Tête de femme (1931-32) and Buste de femme (1931). I was intrigued. It was at this 18th-century château in Normandy that Picasso threw himself into sculpture, a form of expression for the artist that – surprisingly – remains one of the least celebrated parts of his legacy. The grounds of Boisgeloup are also filled with permanent installations of contemporary art pieces. In the cour is a bronze sculpture by Per Kirkeby, while atop a small hill in the park, Triangular Solid inside Triangular Solid (2002) by Dan Graham reflects the château back at itself. A 1995 installation by American artist Lawrence Weiner on the façade of the stable reads, in thick blue paint: “A line drawn from the first star at dusk to the last star at dawn.” The sentence seems to have been crafted for this place that weaves the past with the present, and where the legacy of Picasso is so carefully watched over that one imagines the artist’s spirit still present throughout its many rooms.
Located about an hour from Paris, the Château de Boisgeloup is a Norman residence bought in 1930 by Pablo Picasso to devote himself to sculpture. For three exceptional weekends, this confidential place hosts the “Hymn” exhibition by Gerasimos Floratos, organized by the Almine Rech gallery and Fundación Almine Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte (FABA). This presentation brings together a selection of clay sculptures by the artist based in New York. Made without firing and abused by the sculptor, these pieces are shaped with a certain disdain for the material, until they lose a head, arms or other parts of their body. The series presented explores the search for imperfection present throughout the repertoire of Gerasimos Floratos, in a desire to reflect the current era rich in contrasts. “Hymn” takes its name from these brightly colored sculptures, which appear to be singing and shouting.
Gerasimos Floratos lives and works near Times Square, in the diverse and vibrant neighbourhood of Hell’s Kitchen. His Greek-American parents run a Deli there; the artist has set up his studio downstairs, connected to the outside world only by basement windows through which he can just perceive the feet of passers-by and bustle of the city.
As both an internal production tool and observation point of the outside, the studio has become the matrix of his work, which oscillates between the private and the public, between isolation and togetherness.
At the end of August, Gerasimos Floratos came out to stay with me on Fire Island, where I’d been spending the summer. We’d had similar vacation encounters before – at my home in the California redwoods, and on the Greek island of Kefalonia, where Floratos occasionally lives and works.
Gerasimos Floratos’ paintings and sculptures play with the idea of site specificity and the notion of what it means to be ‘rooted’ in a single place. His works employ pyscho-figurative bodies as mechanisms for charting space in many forms; psychogeography of the globalised world, societies or microcosms built through commonalities of practice, and the internal space of the mind.
Gerasimos Floratos’s solo show at Armada, “Soft Bone Journey,” is comprised of three large paintings in oil and acrylic, and three sculptures, each the size of a person, made of painted styrofoam. (All works are from 2017.) The colors are bold—canary yellow, acid green, pinkish orange. His approach to both mediums—simple lines, rapid gestures, rounded forms—has the feel of street art, a style that seems all too familiar, yet remains utterly foreign.
Gerasimos Floratos, who was born in New York City in 1986 and grew up in an apartment overlooking Times Square, self-assuredly fills the gallery’s space with large-scale paintings and three sculptures, all made with bold and decisive hues, and all vaguely reminiscent of street art. The paintings hint at figuration without coalescing into a linear narrative. Their emotive bodies are alter egos for Floratos, who develops his own personal language and pursues an internal investigation of sorts through the canvases.
Gerasimos Floratos is an artist living and working in New York City. His newest exhibition, “Soft Bone Journey,” opens November 21 at Armada in Milan. In 2016 he staged solo exhibitions at White Columns in New York and Pilar Corrias in London. This Consumer Report finds Floratos in London for unspecified reasons. Here, he spends a week drawing, eating takeout, and looking at art, among other activities.
Through his expressive paintings, Gerasimos Floratos (b 1986, New York) produces a theatrical and abstract depiction of his New York life, experienced from behind the register of his family’s deli in Times Square. Walking through the streets, or looking out through the window of a moving taxi, he sees himself as part of an ecosystem of people, experiences and images that come together in his paintings to form one character, created with a heavy application of coloured oil paint in bold, curving lines.
Even the most spectacularly located childhood home is bound to feel mundane. Thus, growing up above his father’s deli in Times Square was nothing special to Gerasimos Floratos. As a kid, he performed dance moves on the sidewalks around West 47th Street for extra money: “Kind of my own version of selling lemonade,” he says.
As objects, Floratos’s paintings appear slapdash with their crooked stretcher frames and puckered canvases. But this funky presentation nicely compliments the artist’s quasi-abstracted, cartoonish style and penchant for squashed compositions depicting an odd range of subjects, from New York street characters and scenes to Greek mythology.