Horizontal Drawing

Horizontal Drawing studies drawing as a horizontal, symbolic medium.

The notion ‘horizontal drawing’ is derived from Walter Benjamin. In the essay “Malerei und Graphik” Benjamin makes a distinction between the vertical and representative character of the painting and the horizontal, symbolic character of the drawing. A so-called vertical work presents itself to the viewer as a direct window on reality. A typical example is a realistic painting, vertically attached to the wall. A horizontal work on the other hand, is not an unmediated window but a material and symbolic network systematically scanned by the viewer. In the first case, there is a direct and uniform transfer, in the second case an interaction between work and viewer / interpreter is installed. Horizontal Drawing explores how meaning is formed in and through drawing, literally ‘a play with signs’. Drawing is regarded as a symbolic system that generates meaning. The platform values the connection between drawing and thinking and the associated directions: from concept to drawing or conversely, drawing generating thoughts. The direction or track itself is also appreciated: drawing as departure and as end point.

A certain amount of words within a certain amount of time

is a continuation of ‘The aesthetic of the fragment’ and ‘A good book is a good drawing is a good book’.

“The absolute stasis of the grid, its lack of hierarchy, of centre, of inflection, emphasizes not only its anti-referential character, but – more importantly – its hostility to narrative”; certainly these are all qualities easily applied to Marc Nagtzaam’s drawings – with the added twist, of course, of their use of language (the very stuff of ‘narrative’) as the grid’s omnipresent constituent element: words that cannot help but “making sense.” What does a “refusal of speech” sound like, indeed, when the muteness of the grid is made up of words? ‘Twittering Machines’, Dieter Roelstraete

Nagtzaam’s practice might be seen as belonging to the cult of the late modernist abstraction, with its emphasis on materiality, process and pure perception, unaffected by imagistic associations. However, language plays a decisive role in the deviation from this legacy, apparent both in the text works and in the titles given to the drawings which bring back to the factual, establishing the extent to which his works act as dense time-containers, despite their small, malleable, portable format. In the text works, the letters become forms and images themselves, more to be seen than to be read. Is the artist writing or depicting the image of a text? Even if we knew where these texts came from, we would have no idea where are they going. Are they excuses for miscellaneous representations, or a way to affirm form beyond semantic connotations?

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