Having graduated from the Kiev Art School, Isaac Pailes went to Paris to continue education – there he studied sculpture in private studios in 1913 to 1915. Having returned to Russia, he became actively involved in local artistic life, first of all, in Jewish creative organizations. His works were on the display as part of the First Jewish Artistic Exhibition in the Cultural League Hall in Kiev in 1920. In the same year, Pailes expatriated to France. He began to display his works at exhibitions and salons. He belonged to a circle of Russian artists of so-called Parisian school. He made friends with Kikoin, Kremen, Zadkine, Khana Orlova, Mane-Katz and other Montparnasse artists. He took part in Russian artists’ exhibitions. His works were on display in the gallery of Max Kaganovich, his fellow-student in Kiev. In 1928, his first personal exhibition was arranged.
In WWII, he hid away in central France. After the war, his large personal exhibitions were held in New York in 1950, 1963 and 1975 (at the Yeshiva University) and in Paris in 1958. The favorite plots of his works belonging to the figurative period were the view of Paris, southern France and Corsica landscapes, artists and musicians. The fragile world of his nostalgic reminiscences is intertwined with the world of artistic associations and images in his canvases. Since the late 1940’s, abstract motifs domineered in Pailes’ painting. And it is as a non-figurative artist that he gained the greatest recognition.