Yes, this exhibition is a reaction to the zero tolerance policy that many cities worldwide have been enforcing for over ten years now, and has made our urban environments cleaner and more well-behaved (not).
But it is not a political statement. To painter Niels Shoe Meulman politics only seem important when you’re in the middle of it. Instead, the artist tries to focus on universal themes by abstracting from them.
Tolerance is one of such themes. Being able to appreciate behaviour that is different from your own is essential for survival. And that goes for a person, a particle, or a planet. Anything intolerant is working against nature.
Flowing water tolerates the rocks it meets on the way down. Time tolerates infinity. We tolerate because we have the power to adapt. Intolerance is a weakness.
And speaking of tolerance, it was in 1979 and 1980 that Niels Meulman made a name for himself as Shoe in the streets of Amsterdam. Tolerance-wise, a place and time hard to beat. The artist became famous for his street art and collaborated with Bando from Paris and Mode2 from London, developing their own distinctive graffiti style as Crime Time Kings.
Niels’ fascination with calligraphy started in his teen years and continued to be a point of inspiration throughout the artist’s career. At the beginning of 2000’s he started to combine the modern street and traditional writing art forms creating a new direction: Calligraffiti.
Shoe’s recent painting style has been described as Abstract Expressionism with a calligraphic origin. Zero Untolerance pieces are a vivid manifestation of the artist’s evolution towards the new artform on the verge of urban and contemporary art.
During 2014 and 2015 the artist has been painting on handmade mulberry and bamboo paper, marking them with a red ’35 Years of Shoe’ stamp next to his signature. A direct yet subtle way to celebrate the artist’s career. View the "Zero Untolerance" pieces below.
- ZERO UNTOLERANCE / Niels Shoe Meulman
- ZERO / Niels Shoe Meulman
- ZERO FEAR / Niels Shoe Meulman
- Unintolerance / Niels Shoe Meulman
- "Zero Graffiti / Niels Shoe Meulman
- Funruly / Niels Shoe Meulman
- The S word 1 / Niels Shoe Meulman
- "Not Undone / Niels Shoe Meulman
- 35 years anniversary piece "Shoe #4" / Niels Shoe Meulman
- Selfportrait / Niels Shoe Meulman
- Anniversary S I / Niels Shoe Meulman
- Anniversary S II / Niels Shoe Meulman