Kostya Novoselov is fascinated with the brevity, expressiveness and elegance of the traditional Chines art. Following the reductionism approach, Kostya is trying to find the minimal forms which would trigger the same fundamental emotions in both artist’s and the spectator’s minds. For Kostya the object is secondary, he essentially concentrates on the hidden signals the painting sends to us, initiating further reflections. In this, he is very close to impressionism and abstract approaches, even though his objects are often very real, sometimes mundane. The search for the “minimal solution” – the most basic distribution of ink on the paper which is able to cause the particular mood – is very similar to his work as an experimental physicist, where his task is to pick, highlight and amplify the effect of interest.



What would be the minimalistic image of a person? The question is reduced to – what is a person for us? Is it limbs, a torso and a head? Or is it the emotions which are depicted on the person’s face? In the series of depictions of human skulls Kostya made an attempt to assign emotions to the dead human faces. This contradictory combination of the dead and the alive, the motionless and dynamic reminds us the concept of Strange Loops by Hofstadter – the idea which particularly captivates the artist. The expressivity is controlled by the combination of sharp black lines drawn by the traditional Chinese ink and the variations of grey achieved through the use of graphene ink.



How do we recognise people? Is it by the particular features of their faces or by the emotions they express? Do we depend on the static snapshots or we require a dynamic picture lasting in time? Is our ability to transmit and recognise the emotions and feelings lays in spatial or temporal domain? Kostya made an attempt to catch in his portraits this border between the short lasting dynamic expressions and the static overall impression. The dynamism is achieved through the combination of the traditional inks with novel materials (graphene).



The intimate relations of the artist and the media lead to Kostya’s fascination with the patterns the Chinese ink creates on the surface of water. Experimenting with those, creating patterns on purpose, Kostya developed a technique of painting on the surface of water. Such patterns are essentially dynamic, so require observation and passion. The paintings presented are essentially the snapshots of the patterns created by ink on the surface of liquid. In this sense, the paintings are closer to photography and are subject to certain serendipity effects. Like a photographer can wait for hours for a perfect shot – Kostya waits for a perfect distribution of inks to be formed, before it is transferred on the rice paper. And yet, as the majority of the parameters are still beyond the control of the photographer (like a sudden blow of wind moving branches of trees or a loud noise makes the animals to suddenly pick their heads up) – the patterns always have something beyond the control of the artist. But is there someone who actually controls them.

Kostya continues to experiment with the media, adding various surfactants to the ink, changing the surface tension of the liquid. Recently he started to produce such patterns with graphene inks and inks based on other two-dimensional materials.



Kostya thinks that the Chinese ink is particularly well-suited for landscape painting. The combination of crisp lines with gradual semitones allows the exposure of the emotions, bringing the feelings and memories triggered by the particular places on top of the landscapes themselves. In the tradition of the Chinese art, Kostya never paints the real landscapes, but rather the reflections of the places in his mind. And yet, it is still possible to trace the images to the particular spots on the map. But can we do it because of the depiction or because of the universal emotions the paintings transmit? The use of graphene in the paintings allows subtle variations of emotions to be transmitted.



This series of work originates from Kostya’s fascination with music. But is the transcription of the music into the music sheets always correct and adequate? Wouldn’t we benefit from a new set of notations? Maybe, like in the case of the prepared pianos by John Cage, a new set of characters need to be invented for every new piece? And would this new notation by itself trigger the creation of a new algebra, with new relations between elements and new type of music.

Or may be the limitation of the music notation triggers more free interpretation of the music pieces by the performer, making the dialogue between the composer and the performer lasting forever? Just like the interpretation of the new music by Kostya.

The symbols on the paintings follow a certain pattern. The encryption is not only in the shape, but also in the material of the ink used: Chinese, graphene or molibdenite ink.



In this installation, Kostya illustrated the process of inspiration, creativity and scientific discovery. It is practically impossible to narrow down what served as an inspiration for a particular breakthrough. Usually, it is the small things which cause minuscule changes in our perception, but ultimately, when reaching the critical mass – lead to a quantum leap of discovery.

This concept was presented as pages of an abstract scientific paper, showing cross-pollination between different fields, that ideas in one area of science can be utilized in another one. The paper language was abstract, and the characters followed a certain mathematical pattern. Graphene inks have also been used to provide an extra dimension to the code.  Figures and patterns presented cover a broad range of styles, indicating a wide scope of techniques usually required to uncover even a simple scientific problem. Abstract nature of text and figures symbolize universality of the scientific method, which can be applied in any field and lead to new ideas in very unexpected areas of science.

Graphene ink on rice paper.



Kostya Novoselov and Mary Griffiths collaborated to create an “art generator” – a loop of events which produced inspiration for new art work. A single flat (2D) drawing by Mary Griffiths is taken as a seed, which is then imprinted in graphene crystals. A Raman spectra is taken from this pattern, which is then rethought by the two artists to generate a three-dimensional frame. Rotations of this frame in 3D space produce unexpected projections, which are then taken by the two artists as inspiration points to produce new art. Different seed images would produce different Raman spectra, thus different 3D rotations and finally different inspired artworks.

Presented are reinterpretations of the projections by Kostya Novoselov. Kostya also used graphene ink to paint these projections, which closes the loop, bring the cycle back to the original graphene nano-sructure.

Graphene ink on rice paper.



Minimalistic and monochrome prehistoric petroglyphs inspired Kostya Novoselov for the current series. Even the most minimalistic patterns can be very powerful and touching in delivering the message. Kostya’s interest lies with finding that character, which turn the basic patterns inspiring and provocative. Which elements make the petroglyphs alive and allow them to tell multifaceted, complex stories?

Graphene ink on rice paper. 



Any image, any painting can be Fourier transformed and the dominant harmonics extracted, creating some basic patterns. Are some of the patterns perceived by us as more beautiful and insightful than the others? What is the reason for that? Is there any deeper truth in such patterns? Can they replace the original image altogether? Can they be as multi-dimensional as the most complex paintings.

Graphene ink on rice paper.



All series had started one day as an inspiration, one image, single “Why not?”. Some of such trials has never made into anything more. Some are sufficient in its own. Some are still waiting to be developed.