Large-scale drawings and sculptures from British artist Paul Noble are exhibited at Gagosian Gallery, 6 Britannia Street, London, WC1X 9JD (nearest tube/rail: Kings Cross). On until 17 December 2011.
Obsessively tiny details in enormous and surreal landscapes
In Paul Noble’s latest exhibition, “Welcome to Nobson“, the images are often barren, devoid of life while the objects of living beings are ubiquitous. In other drawings, the landscapes are chock-full of objects but with no room for anything but these by-products of sentient activity. All of these enormous drawings are obsessively detailed and a little bizarre, landscapes and cities with very few figures appearing. The few recognisable beings are personified parts of homo sapiens anatomy, or even resembling the waste product of their biology.
Perhaps Noble refers to MC Escher with his vaguely mathematical etchings, or even a nod to the surrealism of Salvador Dali, Hieronymus Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights”. Henry Moore’s influence is noted in the two titanic blush-hued monuments that have a real presence in the room – these might be cotton candy, ice cream or… errm…the after-effect of eating too many pink sugary treats.
I even thought of Jean-Paul Sartre’s novel “No Exit” which describes one’s personal hell as a white room with no doors or windows. Noble’s drawings give me that feeling of stark aloneness in a world surrounded by so many things that don’t make much sense after too long looking at them.
Artist/writer John Coulthard sums up “Welcome to Nobson” as
…a meditation on city planning, modernism, and life at the turn of the twenty-first century.
Paul Noble, a serious artist with a sense of humour
These drawings are FANTASTIC. I went to see the exhibit with a friend of mine (who is not an artist nor in an arts-related field) and it was fun to see how much he enjoyed the work. We spent over an hour looking at about 10 drawings (granted, they are so big they probably NEED an hour apiece to take them all in!) Of course, the mammoth statues in the middle of the room could be immediately presumed as explicitly scatological or are they weird boobs that just look like turds? Lest Noble be accused of regressing to “poop humour”, in analysis of symbolism, faeces or defecation is meant to symbolise creativity in its most primitive and purest form…
Noble’s drawings are quite effective, very strong images — this is in part due to the medium used (lowly graphite!) and lack of colour. More than the infinite shades of grey would overwhelm the viewer who is trying to focus on any of the minutia that soon leads to the feeling of dystopia of current cityscapes and urban society. Nonetheless, modern life doesn’t have be all dark; Noble’s work is quite funny in places but I wouldn’t say all of his humour is particularly sophisticated, what with all the turd characters doing naughty things to each other…
Paul Noble: “Welcome to Nobson” is a recommended exhibition if you are interested in drawing as art practice (particularly on a large scale), sculpture, and the surreal.
Links and Reference materials about Paul Noble
- Click link below to view/download the Press Release for Paul Noble: Welcome to Nobson
Microsoft Word – Press Release-Britannia.doc.pdf [PDF]
- Gagosian – Paul Noble (artist profile, Gagosian.com)
- Paul Noble – How he draws (article: The Guardian, 19 September 2009)
- Artist of the week 15: Paul Noble (article: The Guardian, 12 November 2008)
- Feuilleton – the art of Paul Noble (article: blog by artist John Coulthart)
- Book (available on amazon.co.uk):
- Paul Noble – Book (available on amazon.co.uk)
- Unified Nobson Newtown – Map/book (available on amazon.co.uk)
- Paul Noble – Book (available from Gagosian – publications)
Exhibition details: “Welcome to Nobson” at Gagosian Gallery, Britannia Street, London is on from 10 November through 17 December 2011. Free entrance, step-free access.