Serena Bocchino

Serena Bocchino, born on March 22, 1960, is a distinguished American contemporary abstract artist renowned for her expressive and improvisational approach to painting. Her work, celebrated for its deep roots in Abstract Expressionism, also draws considerable inspiration from the worlds of dance, the Fluxus movement, and jazz music. Bocchino’s artistry is characterized by a dynamic and innovative use of color, media, and technique, which together create a unique visual language that is both improvisational and technically sophisticated.

Close (The Tondo Series), Enamel paint and collage elements on canvas- 46 diameter

Early Life and Education
Hailing from Englewood, New Jersey, a suburb of New York City, Bocchino was one of six children in a vibrant household where creativity was a constant. Her mother, Lucia Confalone Bocchino, was not only an artist who studied on a full scholarship at Cooper Union College but also served as an art director at Condé Nast Publications. Growing up in an environment filled with art and music, Bocchino was naturally drawn to the arts from a young age. She completed her high school education at Immaculate Heart Academy in 1978 before pursuing further studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. Here, she earned a bachelor of arts degree with honors, studying under Polish colorist Wojciech Fangor, who was known for his abstract work later in his career.

Turquoise with orange Rain (The Flower Series) Enamel paint with collage elements on canvas- 42 x 52 inches

Bocchino’s artistic journey continued at New York University in the 1980s, where she obtained her Master of Arts. The university’s location near the East Village immersed her in a vibrant cultural scene, exposing her to a mix of graffiti, collage, and assemblage, along with the punk, new wave, and underground club scenes. This environment played a significant role in shaping her artistic direction. At NYU, Bocchino was mentored by notable figures including John Kacere, Idelle Weber, and Robert Kaupelis, each of whom influenced her development in unique ways.

Rivers of Living, Water enamel paint on canvas-80 x 60 inches

While still a student, Bocchino began working as a studio assistant for Susan Rothenberg and Pat Steir, both of whom had a profound impact on her artistic development. Rothenberg’s symbolic figurative works and interest in texture and movement, along with Steir’s abstract "Waterfall" paintings, significantly influenced Bocchino’s approach to painting. Her involvement in the "4X4 Artists Choose Artists" exhibition at the Jus de Pomme Gallery marked her first official entry into the East Village art scene. A residency at PS1MoMA (then PS1) in 1987 led to further opportunities, including a solo exhibition in Rome invited by Italian Vice-Prime Minister Gianni DeMichelis.

Sound Waves, 2023 (The Tondo Series)

Over the years, Bocchino has secured a place in important museum and private collections, and her work has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions. Her art continues to explore themes of color, space, and gesture, with critics like John Eischeid highlighting the structural similarities between her work and jazz music, drawing comparisons with Jackson Pollock, Agnes Martin, and Joan Mitchell.

Full of Grace, 2022, Enamel paint on canvas- 60 x 80 inches

Selected Awards and Recognitions
Bocchino's contributions to contemporary art have been recognized through various awards and recognitions, including an International Invitational Exhibition at the Czong Institute for Contemporary Art in Korea (2020), a Public Art Commission for Newark Penn Station by New Jersey Transit (2019), and residencies at esteemed institutions such as The ESKFF Foundation at Mana Contemporary and The Brodsky Center for Innovative Print and Paper at Rutgers University. Her early career was supported by grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Artists' Space, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, underscoring her significant impact on the field of contemporary art.