Ilya Zomb’s brilliantly conceived, chimerical paintings lie at the elusive intersection of reality and pure fantasy.
Occupying the shadowy space “between the possible and impossible, the real and unreal,” Zomb's works are reminiscent of such diverse masters as Botticelli, Degas, and Magritte—but perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of this Russian artist’s work is that, despite myriad tempting comparisons, it remains curiously unique.
Zomb’s images can be incredibly theatrical, recalling the dream sequences often found in productions of dance, or the nature-defying feats of circus performers. At other times the scenes have a mythical, literary feel, and we can easily imagine them as sumptuous illustrations for a lost book of parables penned by the likes of Scheherazade. An intensely perceptive artist, Zomb never fails to account for the contradictory emotions provoked by the uncertainty of reality. Like all great spinners of tales, Zomb is a superb sorcerer. He continually manipulates our most basic expectations by altering proportion, hinting at hidden allegory, and manifesting, through careful realism, scenes that barely perch on the possible.
Entreating viewers to “look at my paintings as you would travel to some exotic country and stare in amazement at the strange new world,” Zomb deftly conjures a vision where man-sized fruit is perpetually ripe; where beasts and storms, purged of their minatory natures, are harbingers of peace and beauty. His dreamy, enchanting work allows for the kind of utopic harmony that is all but nonexistent in the realm of the brutally real. And his stirring messages, while rooted in an exploration of the ancient human longing to control circumstance and environment, bear relevance to the most contemporary of concerns.