Founded by artist Romeo Alaeff, Lines & Marks is dedicated to nothing less than the root of everything“Drawing is the root of everything, and the time spent on that is actually all profit.”—Vincent van Gogh, The Hague, 3 June 3, 1883, to Theo van Gogh. – Drawing. Via candid conversations and beautiful, interactive artwork presentations, Lines & Marks explores the act of mark-making as a quintessentially human compulsion and the foundation of visual thinking, writing, art, mathematics, and science. Practically everything conceived by humankind began as collection of marks, from hieroglyphics to modern art to nanobots. Lines & Marks examines mark-making as a driving force in human innovation and aims to beautifully present it in all its innumerous forms, whether they be banal, utilitarian, or glorious.
Mark-making is a quintessentially human compulsion. Incised patterns on 100,000 year old pieces of red ochre at Blombos Cave represent the first attempts to etch a dream of mind onto a physical object. Today, accumulations of such marks, such as those found in the caves at Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc, or the 17th century studies the natural world at the Paper Museum, or the frantic pen marks of Van Gogh, are valued among the most precious documents of human achievement. Drawing predates all forms of visual communication and is the foundation of writing, mathematics, the arts, and empirical science.
To draw is to engage in a conversation with the the world, to interpret it, to be changed by it, and therefore, as has been extensively observed in the development of children, drawing is entangled with the evolution of human cognition. Drawing has the ability to capture with extreme precision, or looseness, both physical and abstract objects; it can explicate reality as readily as fantasy; it can chart a course across a galaxy or chronicle the narrative of a broken heart. A single dot can lie forever dormant, or it can take a stroll, as Paul Klee playfully said, to make a line, or it can explode across a canvas in relentless outbursts of emotion.
If, as Susan Sontag posited, “to photograph is to confer importance” to a subject, then to draw is to enter into an impassioned relationship with it – except for love, one is rarely more connected yet filled with longing than when one is lost in drawing. Drawing demands our undivided attention. It demands that we look and then look again, and even after having looked a thousand times, it requires us to look once more. One literally learns to see by drawing.
Fine-artists, scientists, architects, industrial designers, illustrators, comic artists, engineers, and of course all children, are but a few examples of those who draw in order to engage with the world and understand their place in it. Lines & Marks celebrates all these forms of mark-making, and those yet to come.
Romeo Alaeff is an Berlin-based artist from Brooklyn, New York. Initially studying biomedical engineering and mathematics, he received his BA from Tulane University in 1993 and his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1996. He is the founder and Editor in Chief of Lines & Marks.
Drawing is the root of everything.
– Vincent Van Gogh –
“Powerful categories of evidence for symbolically mediated behaviour, variously described as ‘modern’ or ‘cognitively modern’ human behaviour, are geometric or iconographic representations.” – Journal of Human Evolution
“An individual’s ability to draw is… the ability to shift to a different-from-ordinary way of processing visual information – to shift from verbal, analytic processing to spatial, global processing.” – Betty Edwards
“I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.” – Le Corbusier
“Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.” – Leonardo da Vinci
“Drawing is the artist’s most direct and spontaneous expression, a species of writing: it reveals, better than does painting, his true personality.” – Edgar Degas
“Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing is a meditation.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson