From computer shop owner ... to artist

“I sold the future and now I see the future in art.”

Ilan Starr with a few of his works (photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Ilan Starr with a few of his works
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
In a lively alleyway in Herzliya Pituah hidden between office buildings and cafes, sits Inga. On a late September night, the bar is filled with socialites from all walks of life.
Ilan Starr was showing his new art collection.
While most art shows are in closed galleries, this one poured into the alleyway and was a lively party. The artist often spends nights out at Inga – a source of inspiration for his work.
The opening was unique, in that the artist was presenting his work in the same place that inspired it. The bar also provided the opportunity to bring the art to the people, instead of a stiff gallery setting that leaves a gap between the artist and the viewers, Starr stressed.
Many Israeli artists choose to focus on the suffering of the country, featuring soldiers and wars, Starr said. He prefers to feature the country’s nightlife: “For me, art should be in a fun place, a nice place.”
As guests enjoyed glasses of wine, they looked at works playfully featuring wine bottles and glasses. As couples entered, they were greeted with art depicting various stages of relationships.
Starr explained that the bar’s owner, a lover of art, bought 10 of his pieces and loved them so much he decided to host the show. He saw some of himself in the owner, saying that though he was always a lover of art, for a long time he was only looking on, never making it. He only began producing art a little over a year ago.
Once the owner of Tel Aviv’s – and possibly even Israel’s – first computer store, Starr worked in technology for more than 30 years, starting in high school and continuing into his army days. The single father of three decided a year and a half ago to close up shop and take up art.
He juggles creating the work with taking care of his children, his oldest a 25-year-old student, his middle child a 19-year-old soldier, and his youngest still in high school.
For his children, it was an interesting transition to see their father give up the computer store and begin to make art. Starr recounted that the moment he told them his plan, “They looked at me like I was crazy, like something fell on me. It was quite a shock for them. [But] they know me; they know I invent myself from zero.”
They were also surprised when he decided to study Kabbala, he remembered; however, they saw him throw himself into it and learn Aramaic, and knew he would do the same with the art.
Starr asserts that art is the future just like computers once were.
When he opened up shop in 1982, way before the Internet, people didn’t even know what computers were. “I sold the future,” he contended, “and now I see the future in art.”
While he worked with computers all his life, creating art leaves him feeling much more fulfilled.
The pictures lining the wall portray “the nightlife of Tel Aviv, finding love, all of the dating scene, and the wild life of Tel Aviv,” through the eyes of the artist. Couples meet, relationships form, alcohol is poured and hearts are broken.
When Starr closed the computer shop, he didn’t completely leave his love of technology behind. Instead he combined the two passions.
The modern art is created using touch screens. He creates the works by touching the screen, preferring to use his hands instead of more traditional methods. “I understand computers; I can’t imagine myself working any other way,” he said.
It starts, he explained, from the stomach with a gut feeling, straight to the head and without time to think.
“I never erase anything,” he continued. “What I felt is on the screen.”
All the work, he explained, is created spontaneously; he often adds humorous slogans later.
Though the art is created on a computer, Starr follows his work every step of the way. From the genesis on the computer screen to the final printed product, he ensures everything turns out just the way he sees it.
The exhibit will be on show throughout the month at Inga bar, 16 Galgalei Haplada Street, Herzliya Pituah.
A portion of all the proceeds goes to Connected to Life, an NGO that supports special-needs children.