Hobson’s Choice: Paul Noble at Gagosian, Britannia Street

24 November 2011 By
Director's Choice: Paul Noble at Gagosian, Britannia Street

Paul Hobson, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, recommends his favourite exhibition of the week.

10 November – 17 December 2011

Gagosian Gallery, 6-24 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JD

Open Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm


Paul Noble is well known for his painstakingly detailed pencil drawings of his imaginary metropolis – Nobson Newtown – which he has been navigating like a surveillance drone since the mid-1990s. His new show, which has just opened at Gagosian, includes several new works centred around a vast seven metres wide drawing comprised of 20 sheets of paper, which has been four years in the making and which is the penultimate piece in his magnus opus.  Using ‘cavalier projection’ – a term in cartography for a god’s eye viewpoint, Noble maps out an alien landscape in great intricacy.  His dispassionate gaze renders in forensic detail the infrastructure and systems of this imaginary world, punctuated by decaying brutalist architectures, which are based on font, which he calls ‘Nobfont’. All signs of the civilisation that may have once populated this mysterious, somewhat absurdist, world are long gone. The only signs of life are swarms of highly industrious turds, like maggots in a carcass, going about their business.  Entrance into the gallery is through a screen of suspended black and white orbs and cubes, a recurring motif within the work, as if one in entering into a spatial representation of the drawings. In the centre of the space, two exquisite turd-like pink marble sculptures stand as monumental sentinels to a civilisation long extinct but somehow remotely precognitive. A fantastic show by one of our most eccentric visionaries!

Image: Paul Noble, Welcome to Nobson (detail), 2008-2010, pencil on paper, 20 panels: 178 x 281 1/2 inches (overall), 20 panels: 452 x 715cm (overall)
© 2011 Paul Noble. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery
Photo by Mike Bruce