A meticulous visionary, Noble builds encrypted visual universes. Using language as image, and images as a grammatical system of signs, he shows the malleability of all forms of syntax, a legible schema of interlocking words, drawings, and objects. Noble’s art presents a reality that appears recognizably of our world—but is not. His immersive realms seem to live on beyond their immediate visual impression—as in the vast twenty-year project, Nobson Newtown, a series of drawings depicting an imagined environment, for which he was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2012, and which was exhibited in its entirety at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, in 2014.
These new works, made since 2015, unfold within flat planar settings, devoid of the epic scale and spatial breadth that have characterized Noble’s past drawings. The earliest show a sparse woodland or horizonless outdoor settings. In EGG LEG (2015), a giant leg stands within a tiled hexagon in a clearing, dwarfing the surrounding trees. Throughout, signs repeat: the disembodied, intricately drawn and shaded leg eventually makes its way into a shallow pictorial space without shadow or direct light source; ultimately, these flat, almost non-perspectival interiors are the center of this exhibition, replacing the landscapes that preceded them. The drawings are encased within heavy wooden frames of Noble’s own design, which often echo the framed images within the images; the suggestion—latent in Noble’s work—that a drawing can also be a sculpture emerges.