In the solitude of her studio Mart de Houwer created an oeuvre on canvas and paper, jewelry in silver and sculptures in marble and steel The evolution of her body of work, although small in quantity, is characterised by a remarkable degree of stylistic coherence. Stacked in rows or squares and even folded into metal triangles, the line is omnipresent.
SIMILAR BUT NOT THE SAME
Ink and paper became De Houwers prefered medium. Thousands even hundred thousands of meticullisy drawn lines fill up most of her works. The first line is placed hesitantly on the virgin paper. What follows are thousands of hand drawn lines in neat rows. Together they create a greyish surface, monotonous and calm. At first the lines look identical, machine made. Upon closer inspection, some are thicker or less straight, breaking through the balanced composition. They indicate fatigue during work or the psychological processing of emotions. The apparent tightness of the lines has been lived through, giving the works by Mart de Houwer a uniquely personal quality.
THE HAND OF THE MASTER
De Houwers drawings, ranging from an intimate scale of 10×10 cm up to monumental drawings of 105×105 cm, have a great perceptual complexity. The subtle irregularity of the black lines, generate a shifting play of dark and light. They are always drawn horizontally, even if the drawing is hung vertically afterwards. De Houwer first used a ruler, but this tool stood in the way of a thorough analysis of the process of drawing. Soon she abandoned all mechanical help and realised her drawings completely by hand. Embracing the consequenses of making her art by hand, she by no means wanted to obscure imperfections, they are part part of artistic process.
Mart de Houwers approach to make drawings that are just drawings and focussing on the actual processes of drawing, makes her a fundamental artist. For her the act of drawing itself is leading. Subsequently her large drawings are named after the tools she used. The three drawings part of Belgian State collection are named “Lijn, 0,5 Pentel marker MS 50”, “Lijn, 0,10 Pentel marker MS 50” and “Lijn, 0,20 Pentel Marker MS 50”.