Isiu Scharf
1913 (Ukraine) – 1997 (Israel)
20th Century Jewish Culture Expressionism


Isiu Scharf was born in Czernowitz in 1913 and from earliest childhood and for the length of his life was engaged with art.

Isiu designed his first sets for “Camelion Theatre” of Czernowitz in 1934-35.

He also participated in exhibitions for young Jewish artists in Czernowitz.
Deeply involved in Yiddish literature, theatre and folklore, Isiu Scharf creates, in his individual style, the world of Sholem Aleichem, Y.L. Perets, Mendele Moycher Sfarim and the world of Yiddish folksong.

His artistic creations are wondrously exciting, sparkling with charm and Yiddish humor; grief and joy, sorrow and hope, poetic humor, sarcasm and moods of tenderness, love of child and man, nature and universe, permeates Scharf’s work.

Isiu is a master in creating graphically translated stories from Yiddish literature into visual art paintings.

He illustrated the modest booklet “Six Lullabies” – melodies by Lebu Lewin, published by Hersh Segal (Czernowitz, 1939).

Through World War II he served in the Red Army, reaching the Urals where some of his early paintings still survived. He returned to Czernowitz after the war and with his family moved to Iasi where he worked as a designer in the National Yiddish State Theater, later filling the same post at the Bucharest State Yiddish Theater.

In the 50’s, Isiu designed over fifty productions at the Yiddish State Theatre of Iasi and he also created designs for puppet theatre.

Isiu exhibited 35 “cardboard-cuts” at the library of Iasi University. During the 50’s and early 60’s, he designed sets and costumes for the Yiddish State Theatre of Bucharest and also had an exhibition in Bucharest.

He worked in many media and was awarded a government prize. The artist used a great variety of techniques: watercolors, gouache, oil, monotype, cardboard and many other materials.

Isiu immigrated to Israel in 1974 with his wife, Ester and daughter, Carla.

Isiu and the family were sponsored by his Aunt Yehudit Scharf from Rishon Le-Zion. She adopted Isiu as a son and supported him and his family in their early years in Israel.

In his years in Israel in the 70’s, Isiu was able to express with his humoristic spirit the struggle of learning Hebrew and getting settled in a new country.

Isiu was fascinated with Israel landscaping and with its cultural diversity that is shown in his many paintings after he settled to Israel.

Isiu spent days in the outdoors with his easel and brushes painting in the nature the “old way”.

Isiu taught painting and art in kibbutz Givat Brener near his home town of Rehovot.

Isiu continued to illustrate and to paint from Yiddish songs, poems, and plays including a series of paintings based on the “Megila of Itik Manger”.

Yehudit Scharf was his only family and Isiu spent holidays and weekends with her until her death in 1989. Isiu dedicated many of his paintings to his Aunt Yehudit Scharf.
Isiu left a large collection of paintings and drawings on Judiaca themes. His work relates especially to the life of the Jews in pre-war Eastern Europe shtetls.
Isiu died in 1997 in Rehovot, Israel.