Men in turbans catch fancy of Russian artist

Russian artist Ilya Komov takes everyone at face value (not quite literally). He loves painting “interesting” faces. His works give intriguing insights into a number of characters from different walks of life. Known for using rich colours and bringing out strong emotions in his works, Ilya is earning a name as a portraitist in Russia as well as abroad. Commenting on this, he says, “In my view, painting landscapes is a waste of time. I notice beautiful faces on the streets and think about capturing their expressions through my strokes.”
His first encounter with the rich Indian culture was in February last year when he went to see the Suraj Kund mela. There he painted musicians and dancers sporting colourful costumes. He took a fancy to roadside bazaars and its people. He began drawing people on the streets whose faces he thought were appealing. For this he approached passers-by and requested them to pose for him. “On-the-spot painting demands a high degree of concentration and quick action. It is difficult but gives a certain intensity to my work,” he says.
Most of his works are etched with portraits of Sikh men. “People ask me if I have a great passion for turbaned men. For me art is a vibrant colour story. I spent a day with a Sikh family in Kurukshetra and was captivated by colourful turbans that the Sikh men adorned. I even painted some of them.”
While he was here in February, Ilya was invited to meet Sonia Gandhi, he presented her with a portrait he had just painted of a young girl.
Ilya’s strength lies in portraying the character within. The vividness in his pictures make them distinctive. He believes in listening to his heart while painting. He uses clear colours, simple surfaces and dynamic shapes.

“I am interested in people, interesting faces, wonderful eyes, strong expressions. India fits in this picture completely because of its multi-culture heritage”, he says.

Ilya plans to organise a special exhibition of his works in Moscow. ” I think it will be a visual treat for everyone as this type of work has never been done by any artist there” he says, adding. I wish to come back to India, one day”.

“The Asian Age” 8 January 2006