Itzchak Tarkay was born in 1935 in Subotica on the Yugoslav-Hungarian border. Towards the end of World War II, Tarkay was sent with his family to the Mathausen concentration camp by the Nazis. Tarkay was only nine years old at this time. Tarkay’s family survived and returned home after the war and Itzchak developed a keen interest in art, He won a prize for excellence in painting while still in school in Subotica. In 1949 Tarkay and his family immigrated to Israel and were sent to the transit camp for new arrivals at Beer Yaakov.
The next two years were spent in a Kibbutz. In 1951 Tarkay received a scholarship to the Bezalel Art Academy where he studied for one year before he had to leave due to difficult financial circumstances at home. In order to continue his scholarship, Tarkay was allowed to study under the artist Schwartzman until his mobilization in the Israeli Army. After his service term ended, Tarkay returned to his familiar environment in Tel Aviv and enrolled in the Avni Institute of Art, which he completed in 1956.
Today, Itzchak Tarkay is one of the most popular and loved artists in the world. A modern master, very much alive and very much in the moment, Tarkay draws upon the entire realm of art history in a body of work that is not only aesthetically agreeable and compositionally seductive, but a cultural phenomenon responsible for countless love letters, innumerable nights of passion and incalculable furtive glances - the very substance of visual poetry.
As a successor to the giants of art history in popularity, Tarkay’s graceful personal iconography has generated over a hundred million dollars of sales in a decade during which the art market can be generously described as unstable. While the dollar value of art should, in a perfect world, have no bearing on the aesthetic value of creativity, Tarkay’s acceptance by serious art collectors despite that at that time the relatively low prices were charged for his originals and limited editions, all of this must be noted. What chord does this man strike in the common thread that weaves through our universal consciousness?
Tarkay’s roots as a painter take hold in the decisive years of modern art. The bright colors and flat patterns build on the paths forged by Matisse, Mouly, and the Fauves. Like Picasso and Tobiasse, the sculptural grows stronger than the pictorial. Tarkay constructs a perspective and then takes it away. The paintings go through an abstract transformation, the perspective dissolves into colors and shapes, her face remains, and the world reconstructs around her. She is the natural woman - satisfied, calm, and serene. With closed eyes, her blue eyelids open onto a different world. She is floating, peaceful.
There is an ancient mystery in the work of Tarkay that must be discovered for oneself. This is what Tarkay’s paintings achieve. Tarkay’s fertile female form is a timeless enigma. The poses that Tarkay’s figures manifest are every bit as classical as The Winged Victory or Venus de Milo. Tarkay dives deep into history, and brings up pearls for our times. The quality of his line is organic, the quality of his woman, his art, is magic.