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The butterfly paintings are among Schar's most beautiful works.  At a park in Santa Barbara, California, Ilya witnessed groups of migrating monarch butterflies and his mind returned again and again to them.  He puzzled over how to represent their colorful shifting masses.


In "Twilight", Schar creates a twisting composition emphasizing the fluttering motion of wings.  Here the flock of butterflies takes the form of a brilliant Z against strong black shadows in a blue sky of Brazilian chalcanthite.  This painting was inspired by Ilya's admiration for the Russian painter Mikhail Vrubel (1856 - 1910).  One of Vrubel's techniques was to cover the surface of the canvas with dots and then to draw connecting lines to form his composition.  Schar pays homage to Vrubel by using a similar technique.

Butterflies 2 (twilight)


opal, citrin, coral, ruby, tourmaline, topaz, emerald, garnet, spinel, cinnabar, amethyst - 28" x 28" / 2002

Butterflies 2 (fragment)

In "Butterflies 1", the entire image is dominated by a jubilant display of striated wings.  The refusal to allow for open space - a shallow picture plane and a crowded composition - creates a dense effect of 'horror vacui' (a fear of empty spaces).


The theme of vertical wings hanging on one subtle but uninterrupted diagonal suggests the butterflies' restful state.  As the central band of ruby red wings melts into greens and blues, so the carefully articulated wings begin to melt into delicate abstraction.

Butterflies 1 (fragment)

Butterflies 1


gold, ruby, garnet, cinabar, beryl, turquoise, emerald, tanzanite, chrysocolla, topaz, jasper, bronzite, hematite, adventurine - 28" x 28" / 2002

"Butterflies 3" represents a breakthrough for Schar because it is one of the first compositions in which he allows his predilection for surface detail to succumb to pute geometry.  Many of the wings are represented by planes of pure blue and purple.


This more modern approach to figuration may be a reflection of his admiration for the French painter Manet who merely suggested information for the French painter Manet who merely suggested information in code with thick brush strokes and broad areas of flat color.  Equally potent is his use of depth of field;


He creates a background which disintegrates into a lacy abstract blue camouflage pattern.  The final effect of this painting is one of supreme elegance.


Butterflies 3


abalone, ruby, emerald, tourmaline, iolite, heliodor, aquamarine, spinel, opal, citrin, garnet, blue topaz - 28" x 28" / 2005

Butterflies 3 (fragment)

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