||Shmuel Bak, Israeli painter, was born in Vilna, Poland. He studied painting in Poland and Germany from 1945 to 1947 and in 1948 immigrated to Israel, where he studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art in Jerusalem (1952/53). In 1955/56 he created stage designs for the Habimah and Ohel theaters, received a scholarship from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and proceeded to Paris, but from 1956 to 1963 he worked in Rome.
Bak is a surrealistic painter. His paintings are never completely abstract but always connected to certain realistic images, having for subjects man's nature, his surrounding reality, and the time dimension which works on both. At first Bak was realistic in his subjects, but used color abstraction to express his ideas.
Toward I965, however, the direction of his painting changed and he ceased to depict a realistic world by stylized means, expressing a personal and fantastic vision in as clear a style as possible. There is in his works a return to the painting of Italian and Northern European art in the Renaissance period. Bak used classic perspective to achieve infinite spaces of landscape, accompanied in a paradoxical way by objects made by man who has disappeared, whereas the objects continue their existence and relinquish the function for which they were destined. Looking at his pictures is looking at a mysterious event through a window, the mystery deriving from the impossible relation between the landscape and the objects in it and from the meeting between the old and new. In his pictures “Descendants I” and “Descendants II” of 1970, Bak depicts the experience of a modern businessman and his wife by using two portraits by the Italian Renaissance painter, Piero Della Francesca.
Bak's pessimistic and critical attitude reveals itself in the names which he gives to his paintings, which often have literary associations, as, for example, the picture called “The Sources of an End-Game,” which brings to mind Samuel Beckett's play.
Since I959, Bak has exhibited in Rome, London, Strasbourg, Florence, Palermo, Pittsburgh, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem, and his works have been acquired by many museums and private collectors in the United States, Italy, France, and Israel.