Graphics & Sketches

The Beginning of Everything is Sensation.
solo show
Curated by Elina Gritchina
It is necessary to choose a visual aid that is appropriate for the topic and audience.

"This is not a pipe" - René Magritte

To understand a novel, one must read the writer's diary. To understand great painting – one must view the artist's sketchbooks.

The series of Istanbul graphics was not conceived as a separate project. Istanbul was originally not a figure for Andrey Novikov, but a background. And a certain punctuation mark or even a dash in the artist's biography. A place between the past and the future.

Andrey Novikov's exhibition "Keys to the City" was born from sketchbooks of various formats, which Andrey Novikov took with him every time he went out onto the streets of Istanbul.

This is not Istanbul. It used to be Constantinople. And even earlier - Byzantium. And New Rome. The Russians called it Tsargrad* (City of King). Or simply Grad. City. Perhaps this is the true name of Istanbul – City – a common noun.

The city appears in the project of Andrey Novikov just like that. Complex, multi-layered, monumental, swift, diverse. Not even the City. But some timeless purgatory. A place that is also in between.

Transferred to paper, the space of the City - piles of buildings, emptiness of water and sky, chaos of streets, archetypes of faces - from the worldly, bustling, profane, becomes a sacred space. Which emerges with light and sinks back into the shadows of strokes. Novikov, from pencil outlines, chalk spots, color accents, creates a new sacredness on the ruins of past civilizations. A new metaphorical cityscape, as a phenomenon.

The diversity of materials, the bold work of the artist with different techniques, not only reveals Andrey Novikov as a brilliant graphic artist, but also conceptualizes the entire project into a single narrative about a place that has become a melting pot for destinies, stories, religions, times, epochs, and cultures.

The same unifying plastic solution, the connecting thread running through the project, became the red color accents, flickering, now as headlights, now as flags on the waterfront, turning into large color spots of characteristic carts and trams. Red color was chosen by Andrey Novikov not by chance. It flashes everywhere in the silvery-gray, monochrome air of Istanbul, spreading in yellow and pink, giving an Eastern flavor to these ancient lands, once Greek, Roman, Christian.

The project "Keys to the City" is a visual metaphor for the action of time, when all previous culture turns into a quarry for the current one. Andrey Novikov, grabbing the remnants of ancient luxury, old doors of a synagogue or domes of a new mosque, then bustling traffic and the architecture of the metropolis or the buildings of the "Magnificent Century" of the Ottomans, does not try to show the viewer the entire City and all its faces. But ponders about a time in which the past, with its artifacts and stories, dissolves completely. More precisely – does not dissolve, but loses its name. Culture does not digest itself, as it may seem, but throws its seeds into the future. And these seeds then sprout anywhere and with anything.

Every city grows on such often long-forgotten cultural layers. And every person grows on them too, like a city. And every great artist absorbs, consciously or not, passes through himself both cultures and civilizations, and cities. Not Istanbul, but the artist appears here as a projector of time. Past and future simultaneously.

And every stroke – marker, liner, pencil, ballpoint pen, chalk or charcoal - from work to work, through the project, like time through Istanbul, fills and fills the void of the sheet with the density of past epochs and the space of future changes. Each stroke of each work also subsequently becomes a cultural layer, a fertile soil for new works by Andrey Novikov. From them will grow projects such as Cultural Layer, Fog, and Civilization.

The sketchbook, essentially, is not just a separate genre in graphics, it is a witness. A witness to the artist's journey, where sketches "for oneself", a dialogue not yet with the viewer, but with oneself, caught images and thought forms, and an exact reflection of the artist's reflections and moods.

Andrey Novikov's visual diary of observations, turned into the exhibition "Keys to the City", gives the viewer a unique opportunity to observe the observer. Without the risk of influencing the author, but with the possibility of peeking into the "kitchen", where great painting is cooked.

The series of album sketches by Andrey Novikov is not a ceremonial portrait of the city, not recognizable postcard views of it. Each individual graphic sheet is like a shadow cast by Istanbul. And its reflection. The shadow of our ideas about Istanbul. And the reflection of one year in Istanbul. And a whole life. Many lives. Many peoples, generations, cultures.

We cannot see the entire City, whole and complete. And in the past, and in the present, and in the future. But we can form our judgment, our idea of the Second Rome through the graphics of Andrey Novikov. Which from a series of album sketches of the artist turned into the eidos of Istanbul – its true essence, into its tangible soul - the eidos of the City.

Drawing is Andrey Novikov's way to understand. And his sketchbooks are the key for the viewer.

This is not Istanbul. This is an expedition into oneself. This is the eidos of Novikov.

Art critic Elina Gritchina

solo show
Curated by Tamara Golubova
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