Aaron Noble hovers over his latest work, painting black lines that transform random blobs of color into bold shapes that look like they’re lifted straight out of a comic book, which makes sense, because they are.
Well, not exactly. At first glance Noble’s works—which have appeared everywhere from the streets of Beijing to the walls of Los Angeles’s Hammer Museum—look familiar, like they might be two super-beings caught in a fierce battle, but on closer inspection there are no discernable characters. They are a collage of forms cut from superhero comic books to create one abstract piece.
“I look for forms within the drawing that were probably not the forms that the drawing intended,” says Noble, who is based in Los Angeles where he lives with his wife Jenette Goldstein, the actor who played Private Vasquez in Aliens (calm down fan boys). “I’ll cut halfway into some guy’s muscly chest and follow a stray ink line that goes of into the background and get a piece of some banner flapping in the wind in the distance. When I finish cutting all of that out it becomes some other object that’s not a chest or a banner. I’m purely looking for unusual forms that I can repaste into something fresh and new.”
Visitors can see Noble in action as he works on his three works Mother 1, Mother 3, and Earthbound through Aug. 12, “As a mural artist I’m used to having and audience,” says Noble. “It’s actually good to have distractions every once in a while—the studio can be a lonely place. It’s nice to have a little buzz of activity around me while I work, and most people are polite. Sometimes I hear them whispering about me, but they don’t usually interrupt me.”
Noble grew up on comics, and he clearly knows his stuff. “I’m really a hardcore Silver Age [comics published in the late 50s to 1970] fan,” says Noble. “I was reading John Romita’s Spider-Man, the first reprints of Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man, Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four and Thor, and Gene Colan and John Buscema’s Avengers.”
While Noble grew up on Silver Age heroes, his works are usually created using comics from the Copper and Modern Age (late 80s and 90s). “I make most of my collages out of [comic book publisher] Image comics from the 90s,” says Noble. “The house style at Image are particularly dense with information in terms of the line work—which are super detailed and obsessive—and they really pioneered doing intense Photoshop color effects. A lot of times they went way over the top with it to the point where it almost looks abstract before I even touch it.”
See Noble working live in the gallery all this week at Spalding House, and don’t miss the rest of Spalding House’s new exhibition TXT/MSG, on view through Jan. 10.