It’s been a while since we portrayed a local influential artist, but when we stumbled upon the work of Boccanegra we were instantly intrigued. After studying and living in Ghent for several years, he recently moved to Brussels. ‘Even though I will miss all the nature and open water in Ghent, as an artist, I feel I need to be in Brussels right now’ he shared. We hopped on the train and visited his cozy apartment in the heart of Brussels.
If you are unfamiliar with his work, here is a quick introduction. Boccanegra is a conceptual artist. He became known with his word-paintings that are now hanging in Café de la Presse and the Workshop café in Brussels and are being sold in galleries all across the world. The idea behind these paintings came from a list he once made with all his favorite bands. This list gave the idea to work with words around a certain subject and depict them in a related shape.
‘A lot of outsiders only know me from these paintings, that’s why I often get the label of ‘street artist’. But there is more. This is why I label myself more as a conceptual artist.’ Boccanegra has the preference to work around a certain socio-political subjects. At the moment, he is working around the genocide in Uganda and Rwanda.
‘The sculptures are build around old machetes which was the most important weapon in the civil war between Hutu’s and Tutsi’s. I visited Uganda to get the machetes myself. I bought new machetes and walked up to locals to exchange a new one for their old one. I attached the machetes to a metal frame with small magnets. This frame is inspired by the packaging of model airplanes. The machetes can easily be removed from the frame to criticize how easy the genocide was introduced. The absurdity of how easy two groups of people was created and how easy they turned against each other was what I wanted to display.’
Boccanegra has a preference for conceptual art with a heavy visual power. ‘Artists that inspire me are Basquiat, Dan Colen & our very own Wim Delvoye.’ Apart from being creative, Boccanegra is also very aware that to become a popular artist, you have to be an entrepreneur as well. ‘Fame is not magically going to happen. Being discovered as an artist is very rare. You have to make sure you are out there. That’s why I am not afraid to use social media. It’s also important to surround you with the right people and to ask pro-actively for feedback. With a passive attitude, you won’t get anywhere.’
If you are curious and want to know more, Boccanegra has an exposition of his work running at the Workshop Café in Brussels. Tuesday 9th of August you are welcome to join us and dive into the Boccanegra universe. All info can be found here. See you there!