A drawing manifesto from Barcelona

When I was in graduate school, this document from Barcelona was circulated through the department. The only reference to it I found on the internet was as the mission statement of a show at Angstrom Gallery in 2008. There was a sixties style optimism and crusading quality in it that appealed to me; it seems a positive way to inaugurate the Drawing category of my blog. There is a romantic aspect to the hard copy circulation of such a manifesto, created prior to blogging, but its stated intent to be spread virally suggests to me that it should be posted and available by this more powerful means.


The most ancient, modern, difficult and the cheapest form of expression in the world.

This message is an appeal to the memory of man.

Let us remember our magic ability for communicating the rich world of our imagination, a personal experience unique in its essence and mood, by means of the simple practice of drawing.

Drawing has been neglected as a regular means of expression of human beings, devalued, and finally forgotten. Thus, a universal instrument has been reduced to a specialized technique used only by artists, and has lost, in this process, its deepest sense. Civilization is a paradox: while it boasts of cultural progress it degrades human beings to a pre-graphic stage. In view of this, this reminder becomes a proposal:

•That we recover the universal skill of drawing, conquered by humanity in its childhood, and which can not be replaced by any other language. Thus we will bring new life to a kind of message that neither word nor gesture can produce.

•That we find ourselves again in the self-created images, recovering that source of understanding, expression and, therefore, cultural identity.

•That we no longer be silent receivers of somebody else’s fantasy, but active creators who bring new strength and richness to collective imagery.

The following ideas are set forth as practical ways towards a critical consideration of current prejudices and self-repressive behaviors in the practice of drawing. They intend to promote a new attitude for liberating our natural graphic capacity.

Loose inhibitions and be assertive

•Disregard your fear of expressing yourself and the insecurity and shyness caused by opinions given by friends, relatives and teachers.

•Develop a responsible and independent attitude towards vocation and run the risk of showing your work in exhibits, personal shows, publications and any other means of communication.

Develop your own drawing criteria

•Encourage graphic research and experimentation in all their aspects, permanently devising new exercises and methods.

•Strengthen self-critical sense and own selection criteria, and recreate evaluation techniques.

•Learn to analyze and criticize your own work and its products, and pass that knowledge on to others.

•Disregard the vulgar concept of “taste” and the “good/bad” dichotomy applied to it; and criticize the validity of the aesthetic rules which support it.

Free yourself from conventions and graphic prejudices

•Break the taboo over “copying.” Learn and teach how to do it, for the practice of copying can lead you towards your own creative processes.

•Accept the effect of chance as a source of creation, such as staining, rubbing and correcting; these also have their own valuable graphic languages.

•Consider “mistakes” as a positive and irreversible fact, which can be of help during the experience of learning.

Increase graphic resources

•Do not set beforehand any limits to the process of learning how to draw or to its type of results. It is an unlimited process

•Consider sketches, roughs and preliminary schema – or any conscious or unconscious graphic expression as ends in themselves. Encourage this practice.

•Vary the supports for drawing: paper, wood, walls and floors, etc., etc.

•Consider your collection of books and images as an important working tool. Encourage the habit of selecting this material from any kind of source, classifying and ordering it with a practical purpose.

The increasing consciousness of cultural problems, both of individuals and organizations all through the world, the actual development of a critical attitude towards cultural reality, and the growing interest on enterprises and projects involving any progressive development in these matters, will enable the general understanding of this proposal and the importance of its implications.

This is not a commercial or institutional endeavor. It is simply a way to find out if these ideas have any echo in inspiring positive changes in the practice and meaning of drawing.

If you share this belief, spread these proposals by any available means, and put its suggestions into practice through your own experience.

America Sanchez , Norberto Chavez. Barcelona June 1979

Translation Martha Moia

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