Daan Botlek: This Street Art Isn't Flat

This Street Art Isn't Flat

Text by David Everitt Howe
January 12, 2015

Daan Botlek struggles with his website, which he rarely updates. He much rather traipses into empty buildings, evading police to mount his paintings. It makes more sense to spend his time that way anyhow, as his work is best seen in person (yes we get the irony). Unlike the usual, more complex urban street art, his paintings are minimally rendered, often just a line forming a simple human silhouette. It’s the way they defy depth that’s so interesting. His figures move into and out of flat architectural spaces, pretending to be three-dimensional. Botlek mentions that he “wanted to create ideas and not hide them behind skills and design. Every image should be strong enough to do without. From that moment on, I started to work very minimal. No faces, no clothes, no references to contemporary things, minimal use of objects, no typography, no background setting, etc...this way space became a major subject, the space which is already there. To me it's not a fight with the space they're in, it's more like they're playing with space.”

Peering over building ledges or breaking out of some invisible force field, Botlek’s scepters seem like stand-ins for the Sisyphean nature of humanity itself, and seem to be hurtling towards an uncertain future. That they’re sited in derelict, abandoned buildings—such as the ones in Leipzig, his preferred city—only adds to their ominousness. As Botlek says, “I only have the human body to work with. I started to use these characters as objects which can be molded, chopped, merged, stacked, etc. This automatically generates highly metaphorical images. Because of these metaphoric results and because the characters lack any kind of individuality, people tend to feel a bit uncomfortable with the images. But on the other hand people really do relate to them because it's all about humans. This tension really fascinates me; it's a nice psychological game.”