Paul Noble born 1963

Artist biography

English painter, draughtsman and installation artist. After completing his degree in Fine Art at Humberside College of Higher Education in 1986, he moved to London, where he was a founding member of the artist-run gallery City Racing. At City Racing he held his first exhibitions, which consisted mostly of small narrative paintings and drawings suggesting infantile dream-like worlds. Later he made whole installations based on a single narrative. The game was accompanied by comic-strip drawings that depicted the unemployed characters leading an aimless existence. Despite the bleakness of his themes, Noble's work is rich in visual delight. Parodying the intense fantastical doodling of teenagers, his paintings, drawings and installations, in which he has invented whole new worlds, marked out a particular territory somewhere between despair and hilarity.

Noble further developed the theme of social hopelessness through the creation of a unique metaphorical urbanscape. Nobson (1998; exh. London, Chisenhale Gal., 1998) is presented as a vision of a utopian city rendered in very large and highly detailed graphite drawings. Upon closer inspection, the dystopian nature of this imaginary city, its institutions such as the Nobspital, and its dysfunctional occupants becomes apparent. Continuing the Nobson theme, Nobson Newtown (1998; exh. New York, Gorney, Bravin & Lee, 2000) depicts a cityscape in which the rows of buildings spell out the town's name in an orthogonally projected typeface. Noble described the work as ‘Town planning as self-portraiture', which helps explain the apparent lack of inhabitants, since the only inhabitant is the artist himself.

Abracadabra (exh. cat. by C. Kinley, M. van Nieuwenhuyzen and C. Grenier, London, Tate, 1999)

10 December 2000

Article provided by Grove Art Online