Paul Noble

Little Leg, 2015

pencil on paper

21 × 30 cm

Over £ 10,000

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Working in pencil on paper to give form to his imagined landscapes, British artist Paul Noble produces works that infuse the specifications of technical drawing with wit and ingenuity. Noble is best known for Nobson Newtown, a project of epic scope in which Noble gave form to his imagined world through over fifteen years’ of artmaking. It was this expansive series which incited widespread critical interest in Noble’s work and resulted in his nomination for the Turner Prize in 2012.  

Noble’s most recent works continue to demonstrate the imagination and precision characteristic of his magnum opus. His works on paper are consistent in their form, particularly in his preference for cavalier projection. This technique stages objects such that they appear to be situated along a three-dimensional axis within the picture plane. In Little Leg, this structure serves to imply the boundlessness of the landscape in which the titular limb is situated. The viewer’s perspective takes on an aerial vantage point as the compositional divisions of fore, mid and background are removed. In this way, the viewer is able to regard the entirety of the image with equal concern. The leg itself is an autonomous subject in its own right, appearing as a lone monument amidst a boundless landscape. Rendering odd and imaginative subjects with the precision of a master draughtsman, Noble’s constructed landscapes prompt viewers to conceive the expansive reality of alternate worlds.

the artist

British artist Paul Noble was born in Northumberland, England in 1963. He attended Sunderland Polytechnic and Humberside College of Higher Education before moving to London in 1987. Noble was a founding member of City Racing, an artist-run gallery space active between 1988 and 1998. In 1996, he created the first work of Nobson Newtown, a vast and ever-expanding series of drawings and sculptures which would occupy the next fifteen years of his practice. Noble exhibited the final installment of the Nobson works in 2011, a show which prompted the artist’s nomination for the Turner Prize in 2012. His works have been exhibited internationally in both group and solo exhibitions, and are currently included in the collections of the Tate, London, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Noble currently lives and works in London.

Fundamental to Paul Noble's practice is the employment of technical drawing devices: cavalier projection, a format which allows for three-dimensional objects to be rendered on a two-dimensional plane, is a consistent feature of his works on paper. Originally used for military cartography, this representation situates the viewer with an aerial perspective. Excluding the compositional divisions of fore, mid and background, this vantage point allows the entirety of a composition to be regarded collectively. In this way, Noble is able to provide the viewer with an omniscient eye over the worlds he creates, while hinting to his own creative omnipotence. In these worlds, the lighting is always flat and the shadows fall unflinchingly, a tonal preference referential of the Northern English coast where the artist spent his youth.

Working in the style of architectural plans and figure drawing, Noble’s works initially appear as objective or technical representations. However, the guise of such objectivity is subverted upon close examination, as Paul Noble's meticulously constructed details are discovered. Having produced works as large as four meters tall by seven meters wide, Noble’s works require extended focus and a deft eye to be appreciated fully. The smaller works in his oeuvre are no exception; Noble’s skills as a draughtsman are apparent from a wide view, but his peculiar humor and sociological interests are only discernible upon close inspection. Lewd cartoons etched into bricks, anthropomorphised scatological forms, and lone human limbs are amongst the many uncanny symbols Noble plants throughout his works. Operating within the parameters of technical representation, Paul Noble brings precise form to his imagined worlds.

Working in the style of architectural plans and figure drawing, Paul Noble’s works initially appear as objective or technical representations. However, the guise of such objectivity is subverted upon close examination, as his meticulously constructed details are discovered.

Paul Noble
on Artuner

Part of the

March 15th, 2018 until
April 24th, 2018
Curated by ARTUNER