A drawn line is perhaps one the most fundamental of all visual elements. It comes as no surprise, lines are a recurring theme in Fundamental Art.  

AGNES MARTIN (1912-2004)

The works of Agnes Martin are exemplary. For Martin, a close friend of Ad Reinhardt, painting was “a world without objects, without interruption or obstacle. It is to accept the necessity of going into a field of vision as you would cross an empty beach to look at the ocean.”

In the early sixties Martin, developed her signature style: six by six foot canvases, covered from edge to edge with meticulously penciled grids. Martin gives an intriguing intensity to these vertical and horizontal lines. The evocative titles are allusions to nature. Her works, tethered to spirituality, are inspired by Zen  Buddhism. Martin uses this philosophy to reduce and order beauty from  surrounding landscapes. Her muted paintings tune out the noise of daily life and hone in on underlying qualities of nature and light.

Like Martin, Mart De Houwer was fascinated by the line. Hierarchy of form is lacking her work, only the tension of lines in relation to the canvas is tangible. In Mart de Houwers words:  “In the world there is much that shocks me, but also a lot that gives me joy. The line in all its simplicity is a road towards balance.” 


Around the time De Houwer started making her drawings, Dutch artist Jan Schoonhoven worked on a similar theme. A cofounder of Nul-movement in 1960, the Dutch complement to the German Zero Group, Schoonhoven played an important role in the reductionist, materially conscious European art scene of the ’60s and ’70s.  Schoonhoven’s minimalistic ideology makes his ink drawings a particularly interesting point of his artistic career. Trough his drawings he wanted to eliminate the emotion of the artist and come to a quiet state of mind.

Mart de Houwer shows a similar attitude towards line drawings. Like Schoonhoven, Mart de Houwer, researches with her line drawings the behaviour of drawing as a technique, by variation of the stroke of the pen on paper find a tranquil piece.

Posted in Uncategorized