Acknowledged for his vibrant Post-Impressionist portraits, Itzchak Tarkay is considered one of the principal 20th-century Israeli artists. His style is characterized by expressive, colorful and highly recognizable figuration, revealing a strong influence of both Matisse and Toulouse-Lautrec. Full of life and tranquility, paintings Tarkay produced give an idealized version of life, counterbalancing the difficult upbringing this talented artist endured.
Born in 1935 in Subotica, close to the Serbian-Hungarian border, Itzchak Tarkay was a young boy when World War II began. Along with his family, he was captured and sent to the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in 1944. They survived and returned to Subotica in 1945, towards the end of the war. In 1949, the family emigrated to Israel. Tarkay’s interest in art first emerged in Subotica, and he pursued to study art in Israel. Still, his studies were made difficult with his family’s economic situation and mobilization, but he did graduate in 1956. At the age of 26, he had his first exhibition. Even though he was praised as a painter and the show was successful, the artist stopped painting. Only after a 15-year long break, he resumed his artistic work, with an exhibition in Tel Aviv in 1975. This year marked the beginning of his international career, since he continued to work and exhibit, soon reaching New York and signing with the famous Park West Gallery.
Itzchak Tarkay’s style is strikingly unique. What we recognize as a new figurative take on a female form also tells a story about an ageless world of leisure, featuring ladies occupying different parlors, cafés and terraces. Inspired by leading artists of early modern art, Tarkay developed a particular palette, endowing his works with a fresh energy. He saw the female form as a supreme manifestation of beauty, finding inspiration in it continuously. His works owe much to his artistic instinct, leading the observer into the sphere of peace, universal values, and elegance.
As per his own admission, Itzchak Tarkay enjoyed meeting and conversing with collectors. Since the 1980s, his works became favorites among American art lovers, while the artist exhibited in over 50 exhibitions across the planet. He created in different media, leaving a significant legacy of oils, acrylics, watercolors, and prints.
Itzchak Tarkay died in 2012 in Detroit, while visiting his gallery.