As a young man he painted abstractly, but soon tired of it:
“People who think there is anything new in the arts are idiots....in my early 30s I was quite successful as an abstractionist. But I started painting my own set of forms over and over again. Finally, it repulsed me.”Arikha turned to realistic drawing and printmaking, and then after several years, to realist painting. He choose subjects that were near-at-hand, often small objects, quiet domestic scenes or a view out his window. He always painted by daylight, hating the look of artificial lighting, and began a practice of completing one small painting or drawing in a single sitting.
The use of daylight gives his work a soft, luminous quality, but his often unbalanced compositions and unexpected croppings communicate a sense of unease.
Photo of the Artist's Mother, Ball of String and Alarm Clock" oil on canvas 27 x 46 cm 1989
Lamb Chop watercolor on paper 4 ¼" x 5 ¼" 1975
Cupressus pastel 20 1/2" x 12" 1997
Pine Cones sumi ink on paper 18 x 24 cm 1977
This final painting, "Studio Cupboard" is from the last year of his life. It is larger than most of his previous work and not likely to have been completed in one sitting:
Studio Cupboard oil on canvas, 25 5/8" x 21" 2010
As a child, Arikha's suffered the horror of internment in a Ukrainian concentration camp, and while there he became known for his skilled drawings. He and his sister were rescued and emigrated to Palestine in 1944, when he was twelve years old. His father died in the Holocaust.
“The one thing that is not reachable, never knowable, truly infinite . . . is the world around us.”