#010 - Niels Shoe Meulman

#010 - Niels Shoe Meulman


Destination: Istanbul, Turkey
Date: 21 October - 27 October, 2014

About the print:
± 50 x 70 cm 
Colours: 1 colour silkscreen print 
50 prints, signed and numbered by the artist
(frame not included)

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A little word by Niels Shoe Meulman


"A long time ago a friend of mine went to Istanbul. He's been telling me ever since that I should go and visit to experience it myself. When I was approached by The Jaunt and I was told I had to go somewhere I had never been before, Istanbul was the first thing that came to mind. I got to paint a mural at the Krampf gallery, which provided me with a job to do while I was in town. Being able to work in a city makes you experience the real day-to-day life. You get to see all the different shops, talk with the people and find real local stuff. I was even finally able to find myself a spirograph. I’ve been looking for them everywhere but couldn’t find them.

For my print I became inspired by the many patterns and shapes I found around Istanbul. Of course there is a lot of Arabic calligraphy to be found here but the omnipresent patterns have really caught my eye. Gates, fences, walls; there are a lot of barriers everywhere to keep people and things out (or in), often decorated with a spiral barbed wire. Lately I've been making pieces with just one or two brush strokes with a broom or brush. While being in Istanbul and studying all of the patterns I saw around me I realised that to make this octogram, an 8 pointed star, it only takes two squares. So with a flat brush you can get that on paper in two strokes. People make all kinds of connections with these patterns and symbols, but to me they are just shapes without any meaning. When I see these shapes and patterns it makes me think of Istanbul.



Travel diary

Friday, October 24, 2014

1. Getting Ready
Choosing brushes to bring to Istanbul for a mural that I’ll be painting there. The theme for this mural will probably be linked to the artwork of the silkscreen print.


Friday, October 24 2014

2. And we’re off!
On the plane with destination Istanbul I read a piece by Alain de Botton (author of Art as Therapy):

Going traveling is one of the most exciting pastimes of all. In terms of the happiness it can bring, it’s up there with love. Though – unlike love – most people generally assume that travel is a straightforward process, entailing no serious theoretical or philosophical issues. The chief concerns seem to centre on how to identify good hotels, how to find things to do after dark and where to find small and authentic restaurants.

But to find the true benefits of travel, we need to go deeper. We need to make sure that the outer journey we take aligns with – and reinforces – the inner one. Without getting too mystical or wooly about this, all of us are involved on what we might call ‘an inner journey’. This inner journey is a deep-seated dynamic that exists within us; it encourages us to evolve towards a better version of ourselves, to grow towards qualities of character that we admire but do not yet possess. We may, for example, be on a journey towards greater patience or wisdom, forgiveness or curiosity, playfulness or sensuality. 


Aerial view of the Bosphorus with Asia (left), Europe (right), Mediterranean Sea (top) and Black Sea (bottom)


The Name Game airport version. I haven’t really arrived yet but already an adjective for this city comes to mind: ‘funruly’.

Friday, October 24, 2014

3. Funruly shopping

For tomorrow’s mural project I went shopping for materials in Karaköy district, a tight-knit labyrinth of small stores that sell paint, kitchen products and what have you. Love that stuff!


Karaköy district.


Pigments (many quite toxic) are sold on the street.


Ali, the Turkish-Dutch owner of ‘290 Square Meters Istanbul’ showed me where to get the painting materials.


This is not the first city where I went on a ‘wild broom chase’. And it won’t be the last.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

4. Patterns!

Of course there is a lot of Arabic calligraphy to be found here but what has really caught my eye, are the omnipresent patterns. Gates, fences, walls; there are a lot of barriers everywhere to keep people and things out (or in), often decorated with a spiral barbed wire. So, it’s no coincidence that the spirograph – that I’ve always been looking for – is being sold here by street vendors. 


Sihirli Daireler (Magic Circles)


Spiral barbed wire with the Galata tower in the background.


Ottoman barbed wire.


Circular patterns.


Pentagon patterns.


Sweden; lakes and even more lakes.


Hexagram and dodecagon patterns.

And, my favourite, octagon and octagrams.

Rounded octagon.


Elongated octagon.


Octagon combined with pentagram.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

5. Mural

A cool contemporary art gallery called Krampf, not far from our hotel in the Pera neighborhood, has invited me to paint the side of their building. I’ve decided to do a background based on the octagram patterns. With a flat brush they are deliciously simple to do; just two strokes at 45 degree angle difference. Well, that actually sounds easier than it is. For the writing on top iI used chrome silver paint. I had to empty spray cans because this toxic paint isn’t available in buckets (even here). First a layer with a large broom and then with an eight-inch flat brush.


Two strokes.

Octagramming… notice the chalk line down the middle, very helpful.


Chairwoman of the local Calligraffiti fanclub, the cherry picker operator and myself taking a little break.


Very rough sketch for the chrome layer.


Getting the paint from twelve chrome spray cans into a bucket is a very dirty job that involves a pointy hammer.

Getting dirty. And silvery.


Uhh… What?


Ah yes, the classic splattering tool; the ‘angle corn broom’.


Beautiful drawing by George Grosz.


Constantinopolis, Mokum.


Thanks to Gorkem of Krampf Gallery, Ali for the hookup and Adele for the photos


Sunday, October 26, 2014

6. A night in Asia

Together with the editors and creative director of Klok Magazine we took the ferry to ‘the other side’. That’s what people on the European side call the Asian side. And vice versa. 


No booze on the ferry but anywhere else plenty of alcohol around.



When travelling I always look for ‘Upside down N’s’, a small typographic mistake where the serif of the N is at the bottom instead of on top. Found some nice specimens on the Asian side too. See the whole N collection here: www.upsidedownn.com

And, as usual, a bit of intoxicated tagging…

Monday, October 27, 2014

7. Cats and Mosques

Depending on the singing skills of the imam in the minaret nearest to you, the prayers that sound five times a day are either a blessing or a curse. There are so many mosques in Istanbul that you’ll most likely hear a few singers at the same time when it’s time to pray. 

Another apparent thing here, is the abundance of cats. I’ve wondered if there might be more cats here than humans. These two Islamic myths could explain why there are so many cats here. And mosques.

- The Prophet Muhammad found a cat sleeping on the edge of his vest. Instead of shifting the cat, the prophet cut off the portion of the vest that was free and wore it without disturbing the pet.

- If you kill a cat, you need to build a mosque to be forgiven by God.


These guys joined us for breakfast, every day.


Hello, white panther.



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

8. Wrap it up

Getting ready to go back to Amsterdam. But I’ll be back in Istanbul soon. My solo exhibition at 290 Square Meters opens on Friday 14 November, during art fair Contemporary Istanbul.

Aight, I leave you with some more pictures from the last few days… Shoe signing off.

Octagons, octagrams and Jordan6’s


Detail of the mural

Spirograph octagram.


Look, no serif!

No, that’s not a black sausage, it’s a letter P. New York’s legendary bomber Cope2 was here recently.

Mmm.. drips