Biography of Ilia ZAITSEFF


Born in St. Petersburg in 1961, Ilia immigrated to Canada in 1997 and settled in Montreal.

Zaitseff was 24 when he graduated from the State Naval University of St. Petersburg. He studied mechanical engineering graphic design, majoring in naval construction. He nevertheless soon chose to indulge his love of art and at 28 he became a guide-interpreter at different St-Petersburg museums. Soon after, he was trained under the tutelage of the professors of Mukhina Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg.

Ilia is represented by Galerie Valentin since 2003.



In discussing his work, the artist frequently alludes to German and Flemish painters of the Renaissance. Indeed, the majority of his paintings are constructed according to a strict perspective, the figures situated in a well-defined space. His rendering of richly embroidered fabrics and opulent slabs of marble is remarkably precise and detailed. He borrows the use of symbols and text in his paintings from the Gothic style. A stylish shoe seemingly ready to glide across the floor, an omnipresent Siamese cat, an apple or a mirror are all significant in creating a mysterious effect. Ilia places his figures in historical settings, but they are dressed in present-day fashions. The young and sophisticated woman who appears in most of his paintings beckons the viewer with a seductive, enigmatic look. These are not portraits, but rather they are paintings that hint at a story that tantalizes our imagination but that remain shrouded in mystery.



Ilia works in oil on panel applying a thin layer of pigment that has the transparency of classical art. His paintings are generally medium-sized with abundant detail, meticulously executed using a fine brush. His figures have a delicate transparency to their skin, sumptuous fabrics and furnishings are richly depicted. Ilia’s paintings are not highly coloured; he achieves a subtle contrast through a play of light and the use of varying shades of gray and brown is common.



2011-2004  Artists’ choice, Group exhibition, Galerie Valentin, Montreal

2013-2003 Small Size Works, Group exhibition, Galerie Valentin, Montreal

2006 New Works, Solo exhibition, Galerie Valentin, Montreal

2005 Impromptu, Group exhibition, Galerie Valentin, Montreal

2003  New Works, Solo exhibition, Galerie Valentin, Montreal



Robert Bernier, "Ilia Zaitseff : More than symbols" , Parcours, Vol. 12, no 1, Spring 2006 

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