Off Canvas: Niels Meulman aka SHOE


April, 2012


OFF CANVAS maps the creative subcultures of Beijing where burgeoning communities are stimulating independent expressions of art, music, fashion, and skate.

Shoe selected the rooftop medium of Dashilar as a modern replication and nod to Chinese sidewalk calligraphy. The work is an interpretation of personal identity – his writing name – which he has honed internationally over two decades from the street to gallery. In his work, Meulman mimics the Chinese tradition of water as ink and sidewalk as paper, yet in the craft and tools of his distinctive trade.

The ‘UN-’ and its stylistic form consisting of four calligraphic strokes symbolizes the power of reversal. Meulman’s “calligrafiti”-style of thick brush strokes draw attention to themselves as much as to the space between them. Ink, and the absence of ink create black/white, on/off and positive/negative.The artist contemplates the parallel to how all digital data is broken down to one’s and zero’s while everything in our material world can also be broken down to these basic opposites. As Meulman states, “We can only be comfortable, if we were uncomfortable before. To be alive is only to be undead.” When science proudly presents its universal laws, artists will understand that they are ununiversal. “If you don’t understand this, ununderstand,” says the artist.

Niels Meulman (also known as Shoe) is an internationally known artist and graphic designer hailing from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Meulman began tagging ‘Shoe’ in 1979 and became a graffiti legend by the time he was 18. In the eighties he met New York artists like Dondi, Rammellzee, Haze, Quik and Keith Haring. He then formed the Crime Time Kings with Bando from Paris and Mode2 from London, driving a new distinctive style of graffiti in Europe. In 2007, Niels launched his definitive movement “Calligraffiti,” an art form that fuses calligraphy and graffiti. Since then, his Calligraffiti pieces (signed NSM) are shown in various international exhibitions and are part of several museum collections. His more recent painting style can be described as Abstract Expressionism with a Calligraphic origin.

68 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng District

8 Da Wai Lang Ying Hutong, Xicheng District (in the Beijing Electric Relay Factory)

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