Mr. Tiroche was born in 1966 in Israel, to a family of art dealers. His late father Jean Tiroche was a recognized gallery owner and dealer in New York, Tel Aviv and Paris. Tiroche's hands-on involvement in the art world began while working as an intern at Parisian auction house Loudmer in 1986. In 1992, he co-founded Tiroche Auction House in Israel and has since been closely involved with the family's international art trading activity. In 2008, Mr. Tiroche founded START, Israel's innovative artist incubator project that relocated to Jaffa's Flea Market and opens in early September.
His house has recently been transformed into a residency for young international artists and has much more history and character than I imagined; Serge tells me all about it while taking me on a grand tour through time. The house was purchased by his father Jean in 1973 and is where Serge was raised all his life. Beforehand, the house functioned as an Army Officer's club during the British Mandate; during the Ottoman period, it was an observation point for the ships coming in to Jaffa harbor.
Once the Tiroche family moved in, the house turned into a kind of bohemian gathering space for local artists, musicians and philosophers who were invited to witness the burgeoning new cultural scene in Tel Aviv-Jaffa - and it hasn't changed much ever since.
How long have you lived in Jaffa, and what made you stay here?
I have lived in Jaffa all my life apart from when I lived outside of Israel. I was born in Jaffa and moved to this house when I was around 7 years old. Later in life, I lived here with my wife and raised children here, so this house is a huge part of my life.
What do you think is the main difference between living in Jaffa and living in Tel Aviv, or the rest of Israel?
The difference is big. Jaffa for me is home, I was born and raised here. There is a certain magic here in Jaffa that could never be compared to Tel Aviv. Sometimes when I walk around here, I feel like I am in Tuscany or in the south of France. There is something very European about it, but on the other hand it's also very Mediterranean.
What are your favorite places in Jaffa?
The area of the Flea Market is my favorite, and that is also the reason why I moved my gallery there (it's due to open on the 9th of September). I see it as a very authentic place and as one of the few areas in Israel that really feel special and non-commercialized. I love Old Jaffa and the Namal ("port" in Hebrew) is a place where I enjoy to stroll around.
Do you have a Jaffa secret? Is there anything we should know about this area that we don't already know.
It's top secret! This is for locals only! My favorite place for a quick and near lunch is Dani & Salim, the best barbecued meat in Jaffa.
Have you seen any change in Jaffa in the last few years?
Yes, sure. In recent years there have been many changes and most of them for the better; for example, the garden and amphitheater that is named after my father was restored and is now one of the most picturesque places in Jaffa. Many of the modern and new hotels and restaurants that are opening in and around here are bringing a new feel and new crowd to Jaffa. I just hope the new developments will combine new and old, so Jaffa's authentic feel won't be lost.