Itzchak Tarkay is a refreshing anomaly in today's art world, and perhaps it can even be said that his work, which seems to stand outside of the mainstream, nonetheless anticipates the direction of art in the near future. In a world so preoccupied with being politically correct, with dealing with social issues, with making art that is anything but painting, Tarkay holds onto timeless, universal values--to values that have staying power and do not simply ride the tide of fashion. In contrast to the work of so many of his contemporaries, it will be impossible to look back on his work in the twenty-first century and. describe it as dated.
Unlike so many artists working today, Tarkay believes in painting, and he believes in beauty. Aesthetics and human psychology are the forces that drive his art, not vogue. He has no need of video, mixed-media installation or site-specific sculpture, all of which are the rage of such art centers as New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, London, Paris, Cologne, or Milan. Instead he makes art "the old-fashioned way" -- applying paint to canvas, or printer's ink to paper. In other words, he makes the art of the future -- the art that artists invariably come back to, the art that lasts and holds up to the test of time.
Check out some of the Park West Gallery You Tube videos featuring Itzchak Tarkay using the Video Bar below:
“The Hallowed Essence of Painting”
By Victor Forbes & Renee St. John
A modern master, very much alive and very much in the moment, Itzchak 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 successor to the giants of art history and 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 ubiquitous acceptance by collectors must be noted. What chord does this man strike in the common thread that weaves through our universal consciousness? What note does he hit to get us howling in unison?
What it all boils down to is this: is the art worthy of our attention? Does it inspire? Does it have a light of its own? Or does it reflect a light far greater than that which can be discerned by our all too human eyes?
A man of great imagination and expressive gifts, with a special sensitivity and understanding of this life, Tarkay comprehends the duality inherent in man as one who should not only admire the beauty, but try to understand the sacred depths of this woman as well, thereby, perhaps, coming to terms with his own spirit.
If we can follow the path that Tarkay’s woman takes inside of us, we will find a subtle mystery. It is here to explore if we will just scratch the surface. Let all that you hold onto pass for the moment, and Tarkay’s woman will show you the way. What is the subject in the work of Tarkay? Is it the woman, or is it the shape of her? If we view his images with this thought in mind, the artwork will flow with answers. Not the logical kind of responses, but a primitive visual one. Modern art’s abstracting of reality as we see it owes something to the art of Africa. Tarkay’s work owes something to the early modernists as well. Though he abstracts his settings, he keeps them in line with the natural order of things. The gesture he carves speaks the visual language of nature itself. The shapes that he conjures seem gentle enough on the surface. Feel deeply as you explore Tarkay’s world and another picture becomes evident-a picture of primitive power that etches itself into the memory. And in the memory, all that has gone before remains.
As the prolific and brilliant guitarist Jerry Garcia deemed each note he played to possess its own spirit, so must we consider each mark of Tarkay’s to be imbued with a similar quality. There is life in each brush stroke, a tribute to one man’s quest for peace and beauty. Overall, Tarkay’s compositions appeal to our very hearts because they come from Tarkay’s very heart. How could they not. As he says, “The love for painting runs in my blood.” And nowhere is this love more evident than in the collection of work in which we see the coming of age of an undeniable talent. Though Tarkay prefers to see himself a few steps from the very pinnacle of the art world, if he is not at the height of his powers, he is certainly getting close. If you tell Tarkay he is at the zenith of his profession, he will smilingly tolerate such foolishness, and tell you if that were indeed the case; he would need to travel in two airplanes. The second one for his ego. As you will discover in this collection of his latest paintings and serigraphs, Tarkay as Maestro orchestrates masterpiece after masterpiece. We can only wonder where his next works will take us. In the studio, one on one with his vision, he shows us what he sees in a mode of expression all his own.
As heir to this mantle of artistic superstardom, with all the freedoms and responsibilities such a position entails, there is always a possibility an artist may rest upon his or her laurels. Not Tarkay. As is so clearly established in this volume, he demonstrates, by the sheer force and vibrancy of the art, not just a depth of color reminiscent of the Fauves and a compositional style also explored in the early days of Modernism, but a true understanding of human nature. In his endless panoramic view of the familiar, Tarkay explores new depths of emotion and sensuality. The universally acclaimed sumptuousness of Tarkay’s color and line has now been transferred to his figures, giving extraordinary life and personality to the natural woman, as he so aptly describes her. This persona has become, especially in these incredible paintings of subtlety and magnitude, far greater than the sum of her parts.
While there was a time, earlier in his career, when it seemed that Tarkay was a somewhat casual observer, (if not a stranger) at his own party, in these works it is apparent that he has freed himself from any distance between creator and creation. What is so striking, and what assures Tarkay’s position as an artist of the utmost importance, is that he has translated any emotional barrier into a flurry of emotional involvement. Whereas Lautrec, and in his earlier work, Tarkay, both seemed to assume the roll of invisible spectator-perhaps voyeur-here now, Tarkay strips away any illusion of aloofness with a palate so sensual, so rife with love, that whosoever discovers this world cannot but be touched by the wisdom, knowledge and understanding, coupled with a healthy respect for life, that pervades his art.
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 and the Fauves. Like Picasso, the sculptural grown stronger than the pictoral. He 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, serene. With closed eyes, her blue eyelids open onto a different world. She is floating.
There is no solid earth in the paintings. Where solid earth is called for, the picture plane flattens to the surface of the canvas, bringing us into the hear and now. Tarkay grabs the baton from the early emergence of modernism at the time when the Fauves made their stand. Yet he shies away from comparisons, we just draw them here for the sake of scholarship and continuity. Tarkay’s place in art history will be determined elsewhere. For the present, we have before us a collection of work by a man obsessed with his own vision. Beneath the seemingly simple concepts of “Natural Woman Living Life,” Tarkay infuses his own power: the power of color, the power of line, the power of love. As Tarkay says: “In my case, it is funny. Before I came to be what is described as famous, I was in business. Slowly, slowly, I gave up everything from everything else and put all my love-my life-into the studio.” Once this decision was made, a style was born. “If you watch my work, in many places there is abstraction-no drawing, no image-just color. That’s how I began. The line is now, and has always been, very important. The composition brings everything together.”
With the dawn of the 20th century and especially in paintings created in the time period 1905–1910, we see threads that have been picked up and sewn together by Tarkay. Threads laid bare by the Fauves, The German Colorists, and Picasso among others. Note Picasso’s paintings of 1907-1909, for example Fruit Dish, 1909. Tarkay uses similar strategies: the way in which the fruits trail up trying to become spirals; the vase in Picasso’s work, awkward, wrong and beautiful, like Tarkay’s chairs. Tarkay takes hold of the perspective, molding the middle and foreground to his own liking. The alteration flows to the line of his gesture. He takes cues from Matisse, Lautrec, and the Fauves-but he is now. His work is more organic than that of the Cubists. His line works in harmony with nature.
The paintings evolve from a certain enigmatic shape, like the original form becoming a pear or an egg, reshaping itself into a spiral. With this shape, he constructs his world, and then it trails off, floating. The fullness of it, ripe, bountiful, like the woman herself. In Tarkay’s words, “Everything we want and need can be found in a female form.” Thus Tarkay’s natural woman: the object of desire without responsibility or consequence. She is an icon. We see her in Matisse’s Odalisque paintings of 1921-1923, and in Woman in a Purple Coat, 1937. Here we have the bountiful vase, the leaf shapes, the areas of color, the shapely woman in ripe repose. The foreground flattens to become the canvas as well. Of course, Tarkay is a modern painter, a painter of our times, with his own concerns. Is it any wonder with the state of the world as it is today, that Tarkay paints his image of a woman with her eyes closed? What does it take, in these times, to float in a world of your own? To go one on one with your dream? What does one need to take on a shape and embody a fundamental nature? Tarkay’s work deals with these issues. In his paintings, Tarkay’s abstract shapes become the subject as the subject becomes the shape. Her quiet mood ever-changing, as the shape becomes itself.
What is the power that this shape holds? Tarkay builds his paintings with it. It is enigmatic. It is fundamental. It is more basic then ordinary logic and reason will allow. This is why it must be painted. It is a fluid shape, amorphous, seeking an identity. With eyes closed, his woman dreams herself into this shape. With a gesture, Tarkay’s foliage blossoms it. His more abstract passages flatten to become this shape that is a building block of nature.
In defining this form, his colors are his own, full of Tarkay. His textures and structures melt and move-Tarkay. His woman drift-Tarkay. Again, she is an icon. She is one with art history. She is blown here on the wings of time. She dreams her way into being. She’s not unlike Cleopatra in a cafe. Did we not see her in the Sistine Chapel?
The freedom in these paintings says that Tarkay is not burdened by extraneous influences, in this way his is a spiritual art. Is She the pagan goddess at ease? Is She Kali Ma lounging amidst her creation, eyes closed like Sleeping Beauty? The flowers, fruit and leaves-offerings-shapes of color, nature’s presence blossoming?
There is no school in this world where you could learn to paint like this. Probably, it’s a hybrid of everything Tarkay has seen and done. Tarkay says that “As the paintings happen, you are involved so deeply in the work and what goes on around you and with you. It someday, someway develops, though always changing. But I don’t feel the change, or think about it. It is coming, yet not under control…completely not under control.”
Tarkay is concise, he is to the point, direct. He paints. He loves that. Oh, he loves a couple of artists, and would like to be remembered as one of the good ones. Yet, with this collection before you, Tarkay raises the stakes. He takes us to a place created by the cunning unity of mind, eye and hand. He loves, but doesn’t deify his subject. Rather, he lets us do that. It’s a very real goddess Tarkay illumines with his brushstroke. This is no craven image.
This is an ancient mystery in the work of Tarkay. That must be discovered for oneself. This is what Tarkay’s paintings achieve. He brings to us this mystery for the advent of our coming millennium. His 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. Fifth century B.C.E. female figures, much like Tarkay’s can be seen on the Erechtheion in Athens. Tarkay dives deep into history, and brings us pearls of our times. The quality of his line is organic: the quality of his woman, his art, is magic.Read More
Tarkay is truly a man at one with his gift. There is no barrier between his song and his substance. In the process of creation, it seems, Tarkay is able to reach inside and through some alchemy that melds the mystical with the mechanical, paint us a pure reproduction from his soul. In our process of creating this particular book, we have been blessed with the opportunity to glimpse the internal mechanisms of a genius at work. It’s an over-used expression, absolutely, but in trying to find out what makes this man tick, we learn that Tarkay’s brilliance is his ability to lovingly produce his inner vision without interference, in much the same way that Einstein discovered relativity or Beethoven brings forth a symphony. In the pages to follow, you have the opportunity to explore the work of Itzchak Tarkay, the mystery and the magic. We have used words to introduce you to the man and his tableau. By nature these words must fall short of the glory of his art. The paintings have their own tale to tell, linger with them, allow them to seduce you. They will. Each page is rich with his colors, every plate is you ticket to enjoy. A dialogue will unfold if you engage the work, page followed by luscious page, evolving into the kind of a story that only master paintings can convey. Become consumed by their subtleties. Become transfigured by their shapes. The power of art is unleashed upon us here, that hallowed essence of painting comes across.
Tarkay paints in the light of Israel. He doesn’t talk about it as a Holy Land or make a big deal about spirituality, religion or politics. He is grateful for his health and concludes that “Life is good.” His paintings, we noted are as songs, even psalms. We would like to thank Tarkay for opening our eyes-the windows to our souls. As David, the King of his beloved Israel writes, “I will sing unto the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” That stated, one question remains: Can there be a greater contribution to mankind?
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