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Tanya Ilyakhova was born and raised in Novograd-Volynskiy, a small ancient town in the Northwest Ukraine. At the age of eleven Tanya was admitted to the exclusive Art School for the Gifted Children of the Ukraine, the only school of its kind that existed in the 16 republics of the former Soviet Union back then and was often referred to in the Soviet press as the “Nation’s Gold Fund.” At the age of eighteen Tanya graduated from the Art School with the highest of honors and was admitted to the five-year program of the prestigious National Academy of Arts of the Ukraine. Tanya mastered the technical skills taught at the Academy so successfully that she was granted a special permission to portrait Lenin. At that time in the Soviet Union, this was the highest recognition of the artist’s talent and skills. (During the Soviet regime only selected artists were permitted to portrait the communist party leaders. This rule was particularly jealously observed in regard to Lenin. )
In the early 1990s, Tanya applied those same rigorous skills, enhanced by the unique paining style developed on her own, that combined classic painting technique of fine arts and ancient technique of batik, and was more in keeping with her unique vision, to the once forbidden subject of religious themes. And it is in these paintings particularly, which she calls “Contemporary Icons”, nearly twenty of which were acquired by the Vatican, that we see how Tanya’s mastery of batik as a fine art medium enables her to revitalize time honored sacred themes. Her ability to lend new vitality to time-honored themes can also be seen in her “Mille-Fleur Themes” series.
Tanya’s paintings in oil on canvas quite differ in subjects and painting style from her batiks. While balancing on the sharp edge between impetuous romanticism and static and hieratic symbolism, they create a dreamlike atmosphere, lending the sensation of the harmonious calmness.
Today, Tanya Ilyakhova is a prominent member of the Ukrainian National Artists Guild, Honorary member of The National Arts Club, NY and a recipient of the Grand Prix of Art Festival in Kosovo (2002). In 2001 the National Artist’s Guild of the Ukraine published a book featuring and honoring the best Ukrainian Artists of the decade entitled “The Ukrainian National Artists Guild 1991-2001”. Tanya’s painting graces the front cover.