From Flore’s paintings the more subtle gesture of a love-themed Banksy, here we have outlined some artistic proposals for the upcoming Valentine’s Day. Whether the artwork is for your partner, your best friend or even yourself, this guide will help you provide the right gifts for the art-enthusiasts in your life.
Mermaid Out Of Water by Flore – Colors have their own rhythms, unique energy signatures that like notes gain depth and nuance through juxtaposition and sequence. In a painting, colors work to create and define space, optical movement, and emotional narratives. Painter Flore understands the symphonic power of colors at a foundational level, and for the past several years, his Urban Cubist works have deployed complex chromatic equations and witty texts to create unique, jaunty, bustling, architectural canvases. The artist was formally trained in art school and took a special interest in color theory and the optical dynamics of how color moves the eye and creates the effect of space within the surface, the sense of forward and retreating motion. As part of his evolution as an artist, 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,” he says, “but Modern is my taste. My heroes are Cy Twombly, Willem de Kooing, Jackson Pollock, Joan Mitchell… I’m an art nerd, what can I say?”
153 Artwork by PUNKMETENDER – The Parisian-turned-Angeleno’s very graphic, raw form of art draws from street art, graffiti, photography, fashion and the female form. He counts Alexander McQueen and John Paul Gautier among the fashion icons that inspire him, alongside designer Philippe Starck and artists like Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Salvador Dalí. And one of the era’s most major fashion/beauty idols has already taken notice: Kylie Jenner commissioned a large lilac butterfly piece from PunkMeTender for her recent Kylie Cosmetics x Stormi launch. Love, beauty, sensuality and desire are major themes that PunkMeTender explores in his work, alongside a broader theme of unity. “There’s an aspect of beauty in everything I do, as seeing and appreciating beauty brings people together,” he says. He works based on instinct, never following specific rules. But there is one constant: Like the butterfly that has become his signature, the artist strives to create a transformative experience for anyone who comes into contact with his work. Spin art is one of the major techniques the artist employs in the work displayed in A Battle Won. “The technique I use is itself a transformation: I lay down colors over white butterflies, and watch them transform,” the artist says. “The same way a butterfly is born, and how it transforms itself from a chrysalis—my whole body of work is based on that.” PunkMeTender is also known for his use of original photography, bold colors and high-gloss embellishments like glittery Swarovski crystals, diamond dust and glossy acrylic coatings that push his work right over the top. PunkMeTender is also known for the air of mystery he maintains. He never uses his name or shows his face, and for interviews and openings, he’s even been known to use a model as his stand-in. That is, until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The artist’s response has been to start to visually identify himself, notably with glimpses of himself at work in his Hollywood studio via his Instagram account, @punkmetender. His reason? The heightened importance of human connections, now that we’re all practicing social distancing. “Before, everybody was out and I was hiding myself inside, now that everybody is hiding inside, I’m showing up,” he says. “People need to connect with a person. The artwork itself is not enough. So I had to let go of my anonymity. I want to do bigger things, and I can’t hide anymore.” This pandemic is also a time when millions of people are under lockdown, rarely leaving their homes, and discovering the limits of their new normal. It’s an issue that has deeply resonated with PunkMeTender. “Art has no rules, no censor—it’s one of the last freedoms we have,” he says. “Artists need to keep making art to remind people of what freedom looks like. I think that’s the real role of any artist.”
FOREVER HEART Neons by Chris Bracey – Chris Bracey, who has died aged 59 of prostate cancer, was known as the Neon Man, sometimes as the Master of Glow. In his north London workshop, aptly named God’s Own Junkyard, he made and displayed neon signs that combined faith and irreverence. In the early 70s, he went to work for the family firm, Electro Signs. Among his more memorable creations was his first, the long-lived Girls, Girls, Girls sign outside Paul Raymond’s eponymous Revuebar. Following a chance meeting in the 80s with the art director of the film Mona Lisa, in Soho – Bracey was putting up a sex shop sign at the time – he had begun to make neon props for movie sets. His work can be seen in films as diverse as Batman, Blade Runner and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Rainbow Fancy Dress and Sonata Jazz Café signs in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut are both his. He also made pieces for other artists: Creed’s Work No 232 (2000), a white neon sign at Tate Britain that read “the whole world + the work = the whole world”, was fabricated by Bracey, this sold at auction in 2012 for £40,000. With its mix of skill, loucheness and Hollywood glamour, Bracey’s work developed a celebrity following: Jude Law, Kate Moss, Elton John and Lady Gaga were all collectors.
The Kiss – Shiny Red by Niclas Castello – Niclas Castello is one of today’s most respected contemporary artists worldwide. In only a few years, Niclas Castello has like no other managed to take the art world by storm and is now named in the same breath as today’s best known contemporary artists. He has become a vital figure in prestigious galleries around the world, where his work is displayed next to the art of today’s most popular contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst. The American performance artist and curator Arleen Schloss, mentor to artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat or Keith Haring, was one of the first to recognize the outstanding talent of Niclas Castello. During his stay at Arleen Schloss’s New Yorker loft, Niclas Castello immersed himself in neo-expressionistic compositions and developed his distinctive style so well-known to today’s art community. His work is honored in the world’s most important art institutions and recognized by renowned auction houses like Philips de Pury, London & New York. Articles about him can be found in journals such as the Garage Magazine and he regularly takes part in reputable art fairs such as the ART BASEL.
I Love You by Mr. Brainwash – If you love large gestures, this Mr. Brainwash work will be just the thing for your loved one. Sometimes subtlety has no place when declaring your love, and this work is an excellent example of that. Spray painted on ‘fragile’ stickers, this artwork is a great reminder that love can be delicate, so cherish it properly.
Contentment II by David Yarrow – If searching for something more family orientated, look no further than David Yarrow’s Contentment II. Subtle, soft in palette and adorably charming, this family of penguins are sweet enough to thaw any frosty feelings. Show your appreciation this Valentine’s with Yarrow’s endearing waddle of penguins.
Girl with Balloon by Banksy – Whether gifting this work to a partner or giving yourself the indulgent present you deserve, this Banksy is bound to bring joy and love this Valentine’s. The famous screen print originates from a 2002 mural that appeared on Waterloo Bridge in London. Since then, the work has become one of Banksy’s most sought-after designs. With a bold red heart and a rich history to match, Girl with Balloon represents the perfect proclamation of love.
Gdansk 17 (Mother And Child) by STIK – Valentine’s Day is not only for celebrating romantic love, but also for celebrating familial relationships. Afterall, is there greater affection than the unconditional love of a mother? STIK’s Gdansk 17 (Mother And Child) is an ode to motherhood, executed in the street artist’s classic style. Charming and adorable, this print will make any mother’s heart sing.
Need Money For Love by Beau Dunn – Whether you choose to gift this artwork or buy it for yourself, Beau Dunn’s vibrant neon is both stylish and sardonic. Coming from a series of other artworks that include Need Money For Art and Need Money For Birkin, Dunn’s work truly is a 2021 mood. In a year where everything appears uncertain, it’s seemingly fitting to buy this sceptical neon to add a little humour to your life.
She Came To Break Hearts Pink/ Gold by Joseph Klibansky – Passionate and opulent in equal measure, Klibansky’s canvas combines several elements to express both the complexity and effervescence of love. Bold in colour and busy with design, the silkscreen print arrests the viewer with its vibrancy. Klibansky’s heart surely is the ultimate gift for any enamoured soul.