Ilya Gaponov was born in 1981 in Kemerovo, an industrial mining town in the Novosibirsk region. His monumental and intensely detailed paintings are created with bitumen and Kuzbass varnish, both byproducts of coal mining. The monumental scale of Gaponov’s work recalls the epic paintings of historical revolution but with entirely contemporary content. His unaffected observation combines with his superb academic craftsmanship to create deeply moving images of unparalleled sincerity. Frequently working in series and large narrative cycles his paintings are cinematic in scale, but the subjects are rendered with such extreme pragmatism that the paintings themselves ultimately become oddly distanced commentaries on spirituality and morality.
Gaponov graduated from the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris in 2004 and continued his studies at the acclaimed Mukhina Academy in St Petersburg, graduating in 2007. He continues to live and work in St Petersburg. Until 2010 he worked in partnership with Kirill Koteshov, also from Kemerovo.