5 Artists Talk About Itzchak Tarkay’s Influence on Their Work

 In Art & Gallery News, Itzchak Tarkay, Video
Itzchak Tarkay working in his studio.

Itzchak Tarkay working in his studio.

Itzchak Tarkay is world famous for his alluring, captivating compositions, but, within the art community, Tarkay is perhaps best known for being a generous mentor to his fellow artists.

Throughout his career, Tarkay offered support to many up-and-coming artists, particularly in Israel where he shared studio space with several younger artists. Tarkay never hesitated to play the role of teacher, friend, or contemporary and, when he unexpectedly passed in 2012, his loss was deeply felt by the generation of colleagues he left behind.

Here are five contemporary artists sharing their experiences with Tarkay.

“Haifa by Sea” (2003), Itzchak Tarkay


Yuval Wolfson:

I had a long relationship with Tarkay. I met him when I was 21 years old for the first time. I was very fortunate to paint close to him for a few years. We had our studios in the same building, and I saw him every morning, either going to his studio, or him coming to my studio.

He was a great man, and I loved him very much. In his life, he was very optimistic and colorful… a very happy person. He always reflected good feelings and took care of people around him, always helping.

He influenced me a lot with his stories, with his paintings, and with his visits. I would get ready all day, knowing that, in an hour or two, Tarkay would soon come up to my studio, he would see my paintings,  and he would start talking about my paintings and his own life.

“Flower Market in the Country” (2008), Itzchak Tarkay


Mark Kanovich:

Itzchak Tarkay is one of the most significant painters and a wonderful person, whom I was lucky to know personally. He was a friend and a mentor for me and influenced my work and my artistic path immensely.

In his last few years, we met rather frequently, almost on a daily basis. Our workshops were located in the same building in Netzer Sireni Kibbutz, not far from Tel Aviv.

Daily conversations with such an artist included talks about art, about life, about music and literature, creating the unique atmosphere of those days. Almost none of my work came out of the studio without a word from Itzchak.

“I believe in you. You are a good artist and certainly will achieve success! Do not rush…”

These words of my friend and mentor Itzchak Tarkay will remain with me forever.

“Floral Encounter” (2006), Itzchak Tarkay

Peter Nixon:

There are legendary stories about Itzchak Tarkay being a man of few words, but, when we met at Park West Gallery events, there was always one subject about which he would speak enthusiastically and lyrically—painting.

Not only was he generous in sharing his own knowledge and inspirations, but he was always happy to hear about yours. What came through in these conversations was an endless curiosity about every subject, along with a humanity and a wonderful sense of humor.

Above all, he seemed a man who would be at his happiest putting all this love of life on canvas—the sign of a true artist.

“Keeping Secrets” (2007), Itzchak Tarkay

Tim Yanke:

I had the pleasure and honor to share my studio in Michigan with one of the all-time greats, Itzchak Tarkay. [He] asked Park West Gallery if he could paint in my studio. Are you kidding me?

He spent three weeks sharing my studio space utilizing paints and just having a good time hanging out and painting. We swapped ideas, shared stories, and totally enjoyed each other’s company. I’ll never forget that certain twinkle/gleam he had in his eyes.

Seven billion people on Earth, and God chose me to be at his hospital bedside at the time of his death. I learned a great deal from him during our relationship. Ideas and techniques that are incorporated to this day in every painting I create.

While painting side by side, Tarkay introduced an acrylic paint stick to me. He showed me where he uses the sticks in his paintings. He explained to me the qualities and different applications you can get from these acrylic sticks. He gave me his entire supply of them before he left. I use them in every painting of mine.

I then passed them along to my friend, and fellow artist Lebo and touted how great they were. To this day, he still thanks me for sharing this technique. It’s nice to share, and Tarkay continues to live on through our works.

Thank you, Itzchak Tarkay, you are loved and missed.

“Chatting with Friends” (2006), Itzchak Tarkay

David Najar:

When I talk about Itzchak, it’s hard for me to explain him only as an art influence.

The first time we met, I told him, “Let’s meet for 20 minutes. I want to ask you two questions.”

And this 20 minutes became eight years of a very close relationship. Five of those years we painted in the same place, from early morning until late afternoon. He was my best friend, and a kind of brother—sometimes he was the older brother and sometimes the younger brother, even though he was 28 years older than me—and, for sure, a mentor.

We used to talk about our artwork, the artwork of others, life, women, everything.

He used to tell me, “I’m not more talented than you. I just have more experience.” For me, that was a big compliment. Even if he was just saying it.

He shared a lot with me—his art, his past, his life, and more.

He was my friend.

To collect the artwork of Itzchak Tarkay, attend one of our exciting online auctions or contact our gallery consultants at 1-800-521-9654, ext. 4, or sales@parkwestgallery.com



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