Meet Paintboxer – The Dutch Artist Who Paints with His Fists


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.

“I use boxing techniques exclusively, with real boxing gloves. No brush allowed. On canvas, wrapped around a bag. Bagwork. An explosive expression of emotions. Fear, aggression, anger. Pounding hooks and hammering uppercuts move on paint on canvas. What remains is an echo of the beast within.”

Bart points out that while the human race has progressed immensely since its brutal beginnings, that ‘evolution is not yet where society is today’. “Although no longer required, an ancient pilot flame still burns inside of us,” he says. “Laws and common sense tell us to ignore the savage beast that growls within. In boxing, it can be free.”

“Boxing awakens, ignites, liberates the beast inside. Tamed with technique and precision, boxing honors our animal instincts. Not by the gentle touch of a brush, but by pounding paint on canvas, I pay tribute.”

Bart, who boxed professionally in the past and owns a boxing gym in the city of Tilburg, was himself a student of the famous boxer Joe Frazier. Now that he’s turned to art, he’s doing pretty well for himself –  so far he’s sold four canvases in the past year. But his real dream is to show his paintings in exhibitions all over the world. To view more of his work, you can visit his website:

via BN DeStem