Ilyas figurative works reflect his keen observation of the world around him. He is especially drawn to animals, insects, and flowers. Many of his paintings reflect his unusual experiences with nature. For example, in "Peacock", Ilya depicts a bird that escaped from a local zoo and found its way into his backyard. It perched on a fallen log and unfurled its magnificent plumage until Ilya startled the poor bird onto the roof by opening a large umbrella in front of it. The creature caused a neighborhood commotion.
"Sparkling Flies" is a dizzying display of texture and color inspired by a swarm of flies that Ilys observed collected on a piece of refuse outside of his studio. The artist was fascinated by the iridescent sheen of their wings and saw beauty in what others may have found repulsive. His mind's eye captured the event, and he was able to vividly depict their anatomy and coloring from memory.
Here caviar-like morsels compose delicate fly-wings while larger striated globs bulge in place of insect eyes. Opals adheare like gleaming wet rice alongside lapis, turquoise, and strands of hematite. Other gems hold mysterious black threads. The entire painting glitters with miniscule opulence. There is no focal point - rather the viewer's gaze bounces from one pair of red eyes to the next. Insect bodies all pointing inward facilitate the radial flow of the composition.
sapphire, black tourmaline, citrine, turquoise, emerald, opal, malachite, tiger eye, lapis, cornelian, peridot, bloodstone, onyx, berg crystal, diopside - 35" x 33" / 1997
diamond, aquamarine, turquoise, ruby, fire opal, alexandrite, citrine, emerald, fluorite, moonstone, opal, quartz, blue tourmaline, topaz, spinel - 29" x 24" / 2002
Sparkling Flies (fragment)