Floris Boccanegra (born June 16th 1988 in Belgium) is a Belgian conceptual artist, living and working in Brussels.
As a child he spent a lot of his time in the book shop of his parents. Mostly in the history section, soaking up everything there is to know about our past. Already at a young age, Boccanegra made it clear that he later wanted to become a war photographer, an ambition that he eventually abandoned to study History and English instead, in Ghent (Belgium).
With every piece Boccanegra asks himself the question how he can, in the best possible and strongest way, visualise a certain topic. This always leads to visually powerful works, combined with a deeper meaning or backstory. “A good artwork is like a boxer. The first punch is what you see or experience, but the knockout blow is what’s behind the work, the meaning, the story. If I don’t feel these two punches while watching a work of art, then it’s nothing for me”.
Another important factor of his work is the artist’s own engagement. “I’ve always been more inspired by the type of art where I can truly feel the passion of the artist. The blood, sweat and tears. Whether it’s a passionate cook looking for the best ingredients or a war photographer (which I wanted to become when I was younger) risking his life to show use the realities of war. Whenever I see passion and engagement I feel inspired and deep respect. That’s the type of artists that I want to be myself. You cannot credibly make a stand for anything if you’re not willing to get your own hands dirty”
The choice to use the pseudonym ‘Floris Boccanegra’ was inspired by a historical ‘nickname’. Originating in 13th century Italy, the name ‘Boccanegra’ literally translates to ‘Black Mouth’. To say that one had a Black Mouth was to say that one was an ‘evil speaker’. “The idea to use a pseudonym that already says something about the artist and his vision really appealed to me. Since my goal is to put the attention (through my art) on dark and violent topics in our society, the name Boccanegra was a perfect fit.”
Past works include:
- NFL: National Fucked-up League, an art installation about the dark side of American Football, first shown in New York in December 2016.
- Machete Season, a series of sculptures made with authentic Rwandan and Ugandan machetes, collected by Boccanegra himself.
- Lex Humana, an art installation consisting of a (stuffed) 9 foot American alligator hanging from a gallows.
- Out of Business, an art installation consisting of 9 bullet and shrapnel riddled shutters that were gathered by Boccanegra himself from the ruins of eastern Mosul, Iraq in March 2017 during the Battle of Mosul.
- The Epitaph, an art performance where the artist secretly put a metal disc with an engraved message on top of one of the Great Pyramids of Gizah, Egypt.