Ilya Danshin is a stubborn man. Just imagine. Six attempts to enter Moscow Stroganov Arts School after which he was known by everyone and everyone knew him there. But some strange impulse kept breaking the relevant gearing and to block his way and deprive of graduating this celebrated institution. As a result, the fate has brought him into the same cohort with Van Gogh and Gauguin, customs officer Rousseau, as well as Niko Pirosmani, Apolinnary Vasnetsov, Zinaida Serebryakova and Nicholas Tarkov. And the thing uniting these artists of different countries and of absolutely dissimilar plastic language is the absence of formal artistic education.
Seemingly, this should make one believe that Mr. Danshin's artistic language is as unique and exceptional as that of the mentioned masters. But the lengthy and complicated row of associations upon contemplation of his paintings rather makes one reflect on the artist's creative motives, whether it is nature or inspiration or somebody else's experience.
He knowingly loves the Polenov nooks - the village of Bekhovo, Oka river and the surrounding vistas. Fans of Viktor Polenov may easily find the magnificent hills from where the old painter watched the panorama of his beloved Oka river. However, it was Danshin Himself who has discovered the landscape and put it on canvas.
The artist has a soft spot for Moscow - its old backyards, crooked bridges across the narrow Yauza river, the unassuming and inescapably attractive city view admired by Moscow painters of the 1930s. Although easily recognizable, this Moscow belongs to nobody else but him.
Besides, Mr. Danshin is artful in converting commonality into monumentality. Therefore, his works should be viewed at exhibitions. Otherwise, delusions may surface, as a reproduced small landscape appears meaningful and stately. His loyalty to the tradition, knowledge of the classic heritage and respect of the subject do make him an artist with the shades of world culture behind his back.
Mr. Danshin works in oil, watercolor and pastel, doing that prolifically, dynamically and really fast. He is also fond of doing many other things at the same time, and invariably succeeds.
Well, sometimes his action subsides. Actually, in order to quietly think over the subject and make numerous sketches, as it was with his Requiem. Watching his works, you understand that these are is his only creations, deeply felt out and pained, romantic and elevated, prompted by nature and grown to the highest degree. So, Mr. Danshin's ease and swiftness may as well be pure ambience?
I wonder if the artist himself feels that in the hard times the Angel from his canvasses actually transports him in his hands...
V.M. Byalik, art critic
(State Tretyakov Gallery)