Dénes Farkas (1974) is a Hungarian-Estonian photo and installation artist, focusing on the critique of visual representation, the relationship of image and text, and the role of social predetermination in individual experiences.
Even when Farkas’ work includes people, the human figure is rarely seen. Only one of his earlier series, “Portraits of women” (2002–2003) depicted real people. With his next series “15 portraits” (2004) the artist stepped away from depicting people only to portray them through their refrigerators instead.
Farkas also has a keen interest in architecture, and so one of his most characteristic motifs is paper models of everyday situations. In his series “Superstructure“ (2009) and “How the fuck are you tonight” (2009), based on post-structural theory, Farkas photographed paper chairs, tables, sofas and other human-made objects and environments, placing them in compositions conveying social structures.
In 2013 Farkas represented Estonia at the 55th Venice Biennale with the exhibition “Evident in Advance”. At the centre of Farkas’ installation was a library of 10 000 books; additionally, symbolic spaces for working with books, such as an archive, class room, and home were created. The audience was invited to explore the spaces with books and locate new spheres of meaning. As a labyrinth of language, translation and interpretation, “Evident in Advance” illustrated the quest for knowledge and the inevitable failure of trying to explain everything.
Farkas’ next notable solo exhibition after the Venice Biennale, “How-to-calm-yourself-after-seeing-a-dead-body Techniques” (2017, Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia, curated by Ingrid Ruudi) created a multi-layered exposition, questioning the meaning of the human struggle and predicting an approaching catastrophe. The show juxtaposed quotes by Rabih Alameddine, a Lebanese-American writer, and visual material, photographed at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on Spitsbergen, at the International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Lebanon, and at the Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry in Saint Petersburg.
Farkas’ earlier work focused more on anonymous and abstract themes, however, with his solo exhibitions “When I Close My Eyes” (2018, Tartu Art House) and “About Dreams That Awaken You” (2019, Temnikova & Kasela Gallery) Farkas took a turn towards exploring memories and feelings. Exhibiting photos, self-made furniture and recordings, the artist conveyed memories of pivotal moments of his life.
Dénes Farkas studied printmaking (BA, 2001) and photography (MA, 2003) at the Estonian Academy of Arts. He represented Estonia at the 55th Venice Biennale with the project “Evident in advance” (2013, curated by Adam Budak). He has been artist-in-residence at URRA, Buenos Aires (2018). Farkas has received the Annual Award of Estonian Cultural Endowment (2010, 2014, 2018). From 2016 to 2018 Farkas was among the recipients of the national artists’ salary. His works belong to the collections of Art Museum of Estonia, Contemporary Art Museum (Estonia), Pérez Art Museum Miami, Hungarian National Gallery, and Leal Rios Foundation (Lisbon), as well as to private collections in Europe, Asia, USA, and South-America.