Paul’s oblique panoramic bird’s-eye views represent a revival of the ‘aerial landscape art’ genre
which last flourished in Europe and the United States in the mid to late 19 th C.
Paul uses photographs in combination with street level observations, sketches and notes to
create these unique pencil drawings in his spare time, each typically taking him over a year to
complete. Belying first impressions they are not ‘aerial photo maps’ depicting the accurate
location of streets or buildings, but are instead emotive artistic interpretations of the dynamic
London townscape, which effortlessly conjure ‘the spirit and sense of place’ of one of the world’s
greatest cities.
The original drawings are huge, Waterloo Station 2020 measures 122 cm by 162 cm. As with any
large works, they are optimally viewed from a distance to fully appreciate Paul’s skillful
application of curved perspective and depth of field, miraculously uniting to the viewer’s visual
satisfaction. It is a credit to Paul’s talents that he manages to plausibly marry finely detailed close
up work and artistic spontaneity with an innate use of scale and perspective to evoke such a
strong sense of familiarity. The personalities of artist and city both vie for the viewer’s attention.
Closer inspection of Paul’s work intriguingly reveals supplementary signature features. Within
these grand urban vistas are tiny images, veiled solely by virtue of their size. These additional
elements ‘hidden in plain sight’ within the intricacy of the larger drawing might best be described
as ‘visual mementos’, keepsakes committed in two dimensions to paper, reminders of persons or
events. Alternately poignant, profound and humorous, many of these are of personal significance
to Paul and thereby require their own illuminations courtesy of the artist.
The predominantly monochrome drawings are subtly enhanced by the measured application of
colour, as in the ‘lipstick red’ of the London double-decker buses. In the drawings of railway
stations the trains are shown in the liveries current at the time, and the little jewel of Paul’s 1964
VW Beetle resplendent in ‘Turkish Green’ has made a cameo appearance in every drawing since
2016.
There is a wonderful immediacy and accessibility to Paul Hiles’s work. This is London as seen
from the vertiginous vantage point of a fluent imagination, executed by an enigmatic and free
flying artist who has a fond and intimate relationship with his city..

Keith Allden
March 2020


Icon below for a film by "London Live" relating to an exhibition at Victoria Station in December 2018,
in Aid of Macmillan Cancer support.