Israel Zohar is a painter born in Kazakhstan on 7 February 1945 and residing in London.
Israel Zohar spent the first several years of his life traveling between various countries of Eastern Europe in what is now the former Soviet Bloc. His parents were Russian Holocaust refugees; his father had been involved in the theatre. Though few verifiable facts are known about his life, a general biography can be compiled based on his own accounts. At around the age of three he and his parents settled in Nesher, a small village in the north of Israel. He grew up with an interest in chess and Classical music, cultural phenomena that were foreign to his little village. As a teenager he began to express interest in art, and participated seriously in athletics and basketball. He was not allowed to finish high school, for reasons that are historically unclear. At the age of 18 he went to the Army, and narrowly escaped court-marshal after some military maps of Syria and Lebanon disappeared from his patrol jeep. In 1967 he fought in the Six Day War. He later dropped the usage of his first name and is referred to by friends and acquaintances only as "Zohar." As a boy he studied drawing with the artist Abraham Yaskil. When he began his studies at Bezalel Art Academy subsequent to his release from the Army, in Jerusalem, his teachers encouraged him to begin a professional career right away. Winning the award for the Israeli-American Foundation in 1968, he took a course with the Viennese artist Ernst Fuchs. His first paintings were influenced by the fantastic realism movement, but quickly he changed to symbolism and later he came under the great influence of the Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer. Growing up in Israel and developing a profound career there, he left in 1986 and came to live in London, partly to find a better atmosphere for his artistic career, and partly as a protest against the ongoing occupation of and brutality towards the Palestinian people. A meteoric career blossomed in London immediately. He was invited to do an official portrait for Diana, Princess of Wales, when she was at the height of her fame and popularity, in 1990. Living in London still, he continues to be professionally involved with members of the British government and Royalty, and maintains an endless list of commitments to exhibitions all over the world.
Professional Involvements, Noteworthy Commissions:
Diana, Princess of Wales (1990),
Wallace Browne, Baron Browne of Belmont (2006),
Honourable Society of the Middle Temple (2006),
Zohar has fathered six children during the course of his first three legal marriages; five sons and one daughter. Of note are his youngest son, Matan Zohar, who is an internationally acclaimed DJ and electronic music producer working under the name Mat Zo, and his daughter, Alma Taoz, who has achieved moderate success in Israel as a songwriter and musician under the name Alma Zohar. Only one of his children became a painter in any professional capacity.