Norms do… Hopper’s Nighthawks
The streets of the city are deserted. Not a soul stirs, even the birds have gone to bed for the night. The roads are traffic free, and the shops are shut up. But turn the corner and a strange glaring light bounces off the blackened windows of the building opposite – it is the light and the long shadows, cast like a jarring artificial human invasion upon the darkness of nature’s night time veil. This is the intrusion of the night cafe, the all night American diner, hangout of the lost and lonely, last retreat for those Nighthawks who are unable to sleep.
In Normies diner, three enigmatic norm figures sit at an otherwise deserted bar, served by the one lone bar tender who has drawn the short straw of the night-shift. Their stories are a mystery, their relationships even more so. Do these Norms know each other, or is it a coincidence that three such Norms should stare, so passively into the night, caught in the confines of their own introspective imagination. Are they in trouble? Why can’t they sleep? They’re questions which will remain forever unanswered as we glimpse, unbeknown to the Norms, into the world of their solitary nighttime shadows.
This Normy scene if of course based on Nighthawks by Edward Hopper. With its enigmatic narrative and uncomfortable conflict between darkness and light, Nighthawks is easily Hopper’s most famous painting, and one which I was delighted to have met face to face at the recent Grand Palais exhibition in Paris. Now of course the Norms are inspired, and it’s only reasonable that they should want to recreate Hopper’s most well-recognised image.
(Upon creating it, I (the Norms’ illustrator) soon realised just how complex this painting of Hopper’s is – full of steep angles, and a superb perspective, I had to work hard with my pencil and ruler before I even got started on this one – so many straight lines to map out, so many angles to get right. And then there were the shadows and his excellent contrast between lightness and dark – difficult to achieve in black and white pens, although not impossible – Hopper’s own lithographs and etchings, also on show in Paris, demonstrated that much. I hope you enjoy the result.)
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- Paris: la visite d’art – Exhibition 1: Hopper (daily-norm.com)