Itzchak Tarkay was born in 1935 in Subotica on the Yugoslav-Hungarian border. Towards the end of World War II when Tarkay was just 9 years old, the Nazis sent him with his family to the Mathausen concentration camp. The Allied liberation freed them a year later. Tarkay’s family survived and immigrated to Israel, spending time at the transit camp for new arrivals, 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. He was also mentored by other important Israeli artists of the time, including Mokady, Janko, Streichman and Stematsky.
Today, Itzchak Tarkay is one of the most popular and loved artists in the world. Tarkay has achieved recognition as a leading representative of a new generation of figurative artists. The inspiration for his work clearly lies with French Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism, particularly the color sophistication of Matisse and the drawing style of Toulouse-Lautrec, while summing up the characteristics of his model subject without relying on the precise copying of natural forms, or the patient assembling of exact detail.
As well as being a painter and watercolorist, Tarkay is a master graphic artist and his rich tapestry of form and color is achieved primarily through the use of the serigraph. In his serigraphs, many colors are laid over one another and used to create texture and transparency.
After exhibiting both in Israel and abroad, he received recognition at the International Art Expo in New York in 1986 and 1987 for works in several forms of media, including oil, acrylic and watercolor. Today, Tarkay is considered one of the most influential artists of the early 21st Century and has inspired dozens of artists throughout the world, with his contemplative depiction of the female figure. Three hardcover books have been written on Tarkay and his art, the most recent, Tarkay, Profile of an Artist was published in 1997.