It’s hard to imagine boxing and painting combined to create something artistic. But Dutch boxer Bart van Polanen Petel demonstrates that it’s really quite possible to mix a brutal sport and a delicate art form. He puts on his boxing gloves, dips them in paint, and throws punch after punch at a blank canvas wrapped around a punching bag until it is completely covered in chaotic color patterns.
“If life is ultimately a Darwinian struggle for survival, then boxing at least has the virtue of being open about it,” says the philosophical boxer. Inspired by its primal nature, painting is Bart’s way of paying tribute to the sport of boxing. “Instead of crushing bones and shattering teeth, I use my fists to create,” he explained.
Bart says that when he’s boxing, he feels a deep connection with the men of the Stone Age and the Middle Ages. He feels a certain animal within him, an aggression that he learned to curb in boxing. But with painting, he’s able to let out all that aggression on to the canvas.