Behind the Artist: Itzchak Tarkay

Noonday Chat Itzchak Tarkay Park West Gallery

“Noonday Chat,” (2003), Itzchak Tarkay

In the art and philosophy of Itzchak Tarkay, the bounties of life await at the bottom of a coffee cup, within an armchair or a flower vase, in the composure of a woman, or amidst the company that comforts you – if only you choose to grasp them.

The Israeli master is renowned for his perceptive studies on people and place in the wake of modernity, embodied in image by collected female socialites, parlors, terraces, and quiet cafés.  In our day-to-day, these entities have been culturally removed from our experience, yet Tarkay grounds his imagery in the charisma of a world long-forgotten, and enchants our modern imagination in doing so.

Flair 2 Itzchak Tarkay Park West Gallery

“Flair #2” (2006), Itzchak Tarkay

In Tarkay’s oeuvre, the sentiments of a pre-industrial world are delicately resurrected, leaving the viewer to wonder: what is left to be desired in an age where little stands still?

Recognized as a quintessential pioneer of the figurative movement, below are three details about Itzchak Tarkay that forge a broader understanding of his practice and person.

 

Overcoming Strife and Sadness

Smile For Me Itzchak Tarkay Park West Gallery

“Smile For Me” (2015), Itzchak Tarkay

There is little to suggest that a storm lies beneath the serene joie de vivre of a Tarkay. Although Tarkay so beautifully illustrates the favors of life, the artist himself was denied many of the blessings he depicted.

As a young child, the gifted artist and his family were sent to Mauthausen-Gusen Concentration Camp as the oppression of Nazi occupation raged through Europe.  A year later in 1945, Allied troops liberated the camp’s prisoners, and Tarkay and his family eventually found sanctuary in Israel in 1949.

In the picture of Tarkay as an artist, not an ounce of pessimism, anguish, or rage exists.  A true master of his craft and his sensibility, Tarkay commanded only the good.

 

Humbled in Significance 

Itzchak Tarkay Park West Gallery

Itzchak Tarkay working in his studio.

There is no denying that Tarkay re-envisioned the definition of the “contemporary artist.” As a graduate of the highly-esteemed Avni Institute of Art and Design of Tel Aviv in 1956, Tarkay was thrust into an artistic era where Minimalism, Performance, and Abstract Expressionism reigned.  In many ways, however, Tarkay’s imagery prefaces the work of his fellow contemporaries, while also appealing to the timeless traditions of art history. In kind, Tarkay’s artwork is perpetually contemporary.

In a rare one-on-one interview in 2006 with Park West Gallery Director Morris Shapiro, Tarkay shared which great artists influenced his work. He affirmed his admiration for Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro, and Paul Gauguin, while confessing that Henri Matisse’s fluency made him “jealous.”

Tarkay wouldn’t be likely to agree with or speak toward his success, however. Known for skirting compliments and avoiding chit-chat, the artist was a humble, introverted, and an unassuming individual.

 

Influence Spanning the Globe

Style and Beauty Itzchak Tarkay Park West Gallery

Style and Beauty” (2006), Itzchak Tarkay

Tarkay initially realized great success when the artist opened and ran the first firm in Israel to use scanners in the printing industry. This pioneering spirit fostered a burgeoning artistic community founded on collaboration, free expression, and contemporary discourse.

Exactly three decades after the Avni Institute, Tarkay exhibited an extensive collection of unique paintings and serigraphs at the International Art Expo of 1986 in New York City, where he became acquainted with Park West Gallery Founder and CEO Albert Scaglione. Tarkay exhibited alongside Park West for decades, forging a once-in-a-lifetime partnership.

Itzchak Tarkay Park West Gallery

Itzchak Tarkay painting one of his women.

Tarkay held solo exhibitions across the United States and around the globe in London, Hong Kong, Paris, Madrid, Dusseldorf, and Tel Aviv, among many others.

For more biographical information about the artist or to add an Itzchak Tarkay to your collection, contact our gallery consultants at (800) 521-9654 ext. 4 or sales@parkwestgallery.com.

9 Responses to Behind the Artist: Itzchak Tarkay

  1. Laurie Anderson says:

    I am the happy, happy guardian of 3 original pieces by Tarkay, plus one of a numbered series and a Bronze likeness by the Philadelphia Forge. Each are very treasured and I am thankful to Park West Gallery for the opportunity to collect these works from my now favorite artist.

  2. Gary and Lynn McElfresh says:

    We collected our first Tarkay’s on a trip to the Amazon in 2005. Little did we know how far we would open the Park West window after that trip. Since then, we have collected over 30 works by Tarkay including several limited editions, artist proofs, 5 unique water colors, and a gorgeous unique acrylic. His works hang alongside many other artists which we have collected since then. Tarkay’s color and style are the cornerstone of our Park West collection.

  3. Lawrence LeSage says:

    I discovered Tarkay several years ago on a cruise and have become a devoted fan and collector since then. People say my house looks like a gallery, mostly filled with Tarkay originals and signed and numbered serigraphs and lithographs. I love being surrounded by his works. They make me feel good every time I look at them.

  4. Rudy Gonzalez says:

    We enjoy three singular original pieces bought through the years with exciting diverse themes:
    “ladies”, landscape & “arlequin”. Thank you, Park West

  5. Gail says:

    Have 3 Tarkays…2 serigraphy and one oil, purchased on cruises. Love his work and the colors are amazing & Vibrant.

  6. Glenn M says:

    My wife and I met him, his wife and entourage on a cruise. Was a true gentleman. And you could picture his wife being his inspiration in his art. We own 3 originals and 6 other works that we began buying when we were “much” younger. Amazing man and artist.

  7. frank bailey says:

    I have 2 originals by Tarkay,one depicting his usual ladies and another with a tree in the foreground and a house on the edge of a small village in the background,not seen one similar on my travels,also have 3 numbered works all purchased on various cruise ships.Unfortunately due to down sizing and having other pieces by Alexander Chen, I have no more wall space,
    maybe I could hang a few more in my man cave

  8. Kerry Wilson says:

    My Tarkays bring me so much pleasure – everyday I look at them and see or imagine a story behind each work. What is she thinking, saying or doing? Who is at the next table – where are they? I think about the beautiful clothes and the fabric, texture and of course the colour! Oh the colour. Tarkay brings me happiness. Thank you Park West. Thank you Mr. Tarkay. You must be so missed by the art fraternity.

  9. Robin says:

    I fell in love with Tarkay’s story. My first original work of art was a Tarkay watercolor. I now own another of his original watercolors and a hand embellished piece by him. Tarkay started my love for art and I have several artists now including Maya Green, Daniel Wall and my favorite piece of art is Prime Time by Andrew Bone.

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