Paul Noble, The Void, 2016, pencil, paper, oil paint, and framem 78 3/8 × 66 1/8 × 6 5/16 inches framed (199 × 168 × 16 cm) © Paul Noble. Photo by Mike Bruce.
Forging a unique and maverick path in the ebullient British art scene, Paul Noble received widespread international recognition for his vast and monumental drawing project, Nobson Newtown. Drawing image after image, story after story—at once architect and town planner, archaeologist and cartographer, social historian and activist, creator and destroyer—over the course of a decade Noble invented and described a melancholy urban vision somewhere between Le Doux’s revolutionary utopias, Sim City, and the post-holocaust wastelands pictured in the daily media. Nobson Newtown was Noble’s own fantasist master plan of a symbolic city, isometrically rendered and replete with all manner of nightmares, perversions, scatolological and libidinous excesses. A blocky, geometric font (also invented by the artist) structured many of the buildings themselves, providing yet another layer of meaning in this fascinating parody of contemporary society and the dreams of social engineers.
A meticulous and dedicated draftsman, Noble creates dizzyingly elaborate encrypted schemes, drawing from inspirations as diverse as ancient Chinese scrolls and Japanese sculptures, Fabergé eggs and brick walls, eighteenth-century pornography and animal rights, Hieronymous Bosch and Oyvind Fahlstrom. The sheer level of detail in his drawings defies the capacity of the eye to see and the mind to fully grasp them.
Paul Noble was born in 1963 in Northumberland, England. From 1982 to 1983, he attended Sunderland Polytechnic, England, and from 1983 to 1986, he attended Humberside College of Higher Education, England. Noble’s work has been part of numerous group exhibitions including Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Brazil (2001); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2002); The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia (2003); New Museum, New York (2003); Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich (2003); Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, Turkey (2003); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Mexico (2004); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (2005); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2005); The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, New York (2006); Neuberger Museum of Art, New York (2008); Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, California (2009); Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, the Netherlands (2010); Tate Britain, London (2010); Center of Contemporary Art, Germany (2010); Center of Contemporary Art, Italy (2011); Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green, England (2014); and Marta Herford Museum, Germany (2015). Recent solo museum exhibitions include The Migros Museum, Zürich (2005); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the Netherlands (2005); and “Nobson,” Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the Netherlands (2014).
Noble currently lives and works in London.