At first glance, the visceral, gleaming images of Ilya Schar's art look like paintings. But after a moment's inspection, viewers are drawn into a wriggling world of mineral minutiae, gently guided under a master's hand. These paintings are composed entirely of precious and semi-precious stones, ground, polished, and gently affixed to the surface. It's an unusual choice of materials, but the technique is not so foreign considering Schar's history as a dental surgeon. His trained nimble fingers bring the glimmering stones to life.
"I've always wanted to show the world that gemstones are not just for jewelry" said Schar, a Moscow-born artist. "Their wonderful colors can be used for many other purposes, which I've tried to demonstrate through my art"
citrine, garnet, heliodor, aquamarine, alexandrite, topaz, zircon, turquoise, lapis lazuli, abalone, amber, beryl, labradorite - 24" x 24" / 2002
Gems have been employed by artists for centuries as pigment for paint as well as to embellisg sculpture and jewelry. But Schar's methods are distinct. His use of stone is 'an amalgamation that draws upon several traditional art forms including painting, mosaic, and relief sculpture rolled into a unique and eye-dazzling explosion of color and patern'. Like many self-taught artists, Ilya's creative processes are idiosyncratic. Trial and error led him to his sophisticated and labor-intensive technique of layering stones and crushed powders to achive a painterly effect. The stones range in size from that of a jellybean to a grain of sand - all carefully aligned to represent Schar's exotic imagery.
His subject matter ranges from quirky figurative works of birds, flowers, masks and dancers to fluid abstract pieces, where his strength as a colorist takes center stage
Water Lilies (fragment)