Artist Daniel Van der Noon has landed far from where he first started – both figuratively and geographically.
Originally a student in literature and philosophy, the British artist relocated to Copenhagen several years ago on an exchange with the University of Leeds. Enticed by the country’s dreary climate – or rather, an artist residency in Aarhus – he later returned to Denmark with pen in hand and began to garner acclaim for his intricate-yet-playful drawings of cityscapes and skylines.
And starting in February, Van der Noon will make another triumphant return, this time to Copenhagen to show a selection of his drawings at the Galleri Jules Julian − his first solo exhibition in the capital.
This collection will showcase the styles that have become Van der Noon’s trademark: soaring skyscrapers, lively illustrations and his signature window drawings – urban horizons portrayed across glass surfaces.
Van der Noon’s organically formed drawings have often been described as ornamentally naive, bringing a human aspect to the painstaking detail of his cityscapes. By analysing the framework through which buildings, roads and infrastructure are built, his elaborate drawings re-examine the mapping of cities and simultaneously have a powerful effect on the viewer’s imagination.
The artist explains that he has long grappled with the concept of middle ground, be it between words and language or art and aesthetics.
“My work has always been about both language, symbolism and, of course, architecture, and much of the work is a combination of all three,” Van der Noon told InOut.
Two diverse styles operate within his drawings, he explained. The first is architectural pieces, including individual studies of buildings and extensive cityscapes. The second is what he calls ‘human equations’, or “automatic drawings churned out through long drawing sessions that emit stories, characters, theories, confessions, memories, dreams and thoughts in a random, illogical format”.
It’s this bridging of styles that operates within the collection in this show, according to Van der Noon. The coming exhibition’s works can mainly be classified as architectural pieces – both individual studies on buildings and extensive cityscapes. They are created with meticulous detail and a simultaneously whimsical nature, blurring the lines between conceptual and figurative, real and fictitious.
The title of his upcoming exhibition, ‘Selected Storeys’, plays with this very idea: the city as a fictitious concept.
“The selected storeys aren’t just the storeys of a building, but also the numerous stories found on a single floor of an apartment block from the mind of a single person, of which there are billions packed in cities around the world,” Van der Noon explained. “It is a point of view of seeing the world from my closed circuit.”
In this way, Van der Noon explained, the pieces speak collectively to questions about human perspective within a city.
“The work, when constituted as a whole, is in its simplest terms, is about consciousness and the natural environments in which we display, nurture and hone that consciousness: the city.”
Beyond his show at Jules Julian, Van der Noon has lofty aspirations for the future, hoping to expand the international success of his work across the world and garner urban recognition for his cityscapes.
“My aims for the future are to find my art works in a Qatari art collection, and my cityscapes listed as republics, municipalities and principalities,” he jokes. “Although there are no real people living in these places, there are certainly more windows in my bigger city pieces than in the cities of smaller states – like San Marino, for example.”
Galleri Jules Julian features contemporary works from Danish and international artists alike across various media and expressions. The opening of Van der Noon’s exhibition at the gallery will also feature music from Copenhagen-based DJ EIF (Fie Paarup).
Daniel Van der Noon – Selected Storeys
Galleri Jules Julian, Palægade 7 st.tv, Cph K; starts Feb 1 17:00-20:00, ends March 9; open Tue-Fri 12:00-20:00, Sat 11:00-14:00; 3331 1067; www.danielvandernoon.com, www.julesjulian.dk