Itzchak Tarkay was born in 1935 in Subotica on the Yugoslav Hungarian border. When he was only nine years old, the Nazis sent Tarkay to Mathausen concentration camp. After the war, he returned home and developed an interest in art. While still at school in Subotica, he won a prize for excellence in painting.
Tarkay’s family emigrated from Israel. In 1951, Tarkay received a scholarship to the Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem, where he studied for a year before having to leave due to difficult financial circumstances at home. In order to continue his scholarship, he was allowed to study under the artist Schwartzman until his mobilization to the Israeli army. After returning to the familiar environment of Tel Aviv, Tarkay enrolled in the Avni Institute of Art, which he graduated in 1956.
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. Tarkay has since exhibited extensively both in Israel and abroad, and his works can be found in many public and private collections.