István Csákány

István Csákány

Born 1978, Sfântu Gheorghe
Lived in Budapest (1990)

István Csákány belongs to the significant artists of contemporary Hungarian scene. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest in Dora Maurer Studio. He exhibited at numbers of contemporary art shows (Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016, the OFF-Biennale Budapest (2015), the LIAF 2013 Lofoten Art Festival (2013), at dOCUMENTA 13 (Kassel, 2012), and at the Prague Biennale (2007).
In the creation of sculptural objects and installations he applies a conceptual approach, but also an exceptional craftsmanship. He is interested in modernity’s endgames, in monumentality, collective memory, and in labor, both industrial and that of the artist. Often he creates complex, uncanny scenarios, dioramas, in which found objects and his own works acquire new identities in chilling visions of the present.

author: Krisztina Üveges, 2018

sculpture, installation, object, conceptual art


Attended the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest, Dóra Maurer's class, studied painting. During the university years, he got interested in spatial issues that led him to work with installation and sculpture. This change stemmed from his private life experience. When he moved to Hungary with his father, they started to build a new house on their own, as many people in Central and Eastern Europe did in the socialist era. Later, Csákány worked as a project manager to make a living, he built and renovated houses and flats with his fellow artists. As a result of these experiences, house and work gained a symbolic meaning for him and the idea of the artist as a worker has become a basic component of his pieces. These elements can be found in his graduation piece, entitled Province Modell (painting installation, 2006): the roof of a house of straw was decorated with the paintings of his classmates. Csákány was interested in this cheap and simple material, and the fabrication as construction method, since these were a sort of childhood experiences when the DIY activities were a crucial part of everyday life in the period of shortage economy. This painting installation engendered a problematic situation in the Painting Department graduation, but Dóra Maurer defended his work with her prominent argument.


Klón (solo exhibition, Budapest)


Gyöngykép (solo exhibition, Budapest)


Tömérdek (group exhibition, Budapest)
Friss - Budapest Art Expo (group exhibition, Szentendre)
Maybe (group exhibition, Sfântu Gheorghe)


The Robbery of Europe (group exhibition, Budapest)


Received grant from Academy of Fine Arts Macerata
Ludwig Grant Exhibition (group exhibition, Budapest)
100 Years Rudolf Arnheim (group exhibition, Macerata)
Plus 190 (group exhibition, Düsseldorf)


Munka cím (solo exhibition, Budapest)


Project leader of “Space definitions” workshop, Department of Public Building, University of Technology and Economics, Budapest. The number of works dealing with the concept of working and architecture has increased during this period (Home-made Mutant (house model, photography of workers and house from photo series Abandoned Toys by Miklós Surányi, 2008). It is based on the picture of an unfinished twin house in the countryside of Hungary, taken by the photographer Miklós Surányi. When the model of this house was exhibited for the first time, it was shown together with the original photograph of the house. Later, it was shown together with group-picture of 4 worker-like people, who are the artist himself, his friends and relatives standing in a flat that is under reconstruction. The depicted situation is real, as they were all working on the reconstruction of a flat, so the photo documents them as workers. Both the building and the photo reflect on the very common we-do-it-ourselves attitude.
Province Modell
Province Modell (installation;painting)

Province model (solo exhibition, Budapest)
Eats=Food (group exhibition, Pécs)


Received grant from Stanica Žilina-Záriečie
II. Biennale of Prague (group exhibition, Prague)
Kapitalistische Freundschaft (group exhibition, Berlin)
Dear Painter, Paint Me.. with Heart and Mind (group exhibition, Budapest)


He won the Prize for Best Young Artist 2007, from the Studio of Young Artists' Association. It is important to note that during this period several works related to remembrance were made, but primarily not as a topic, but he was interested in monuments as an intermediary form. The woodcut, entitled Erecting (2008) shows the efforts of a group of people to raise the huge sculpture of a human. The visual language of this work is a reminiscence of the woodcut, a medium highly popular in the socialist times. The theme of the socialist worker again appeared in the sculpture entitled The Worker of Tomorrow, Service-Uniform (concrete, 2009), extended with the myth of the international workers’ movement. The sculpture shows the empty costume of a fireman, who must take up his dress in six seconds. As Csákány stated, the fireman is considered as an action hero in the society, nonetheless the figure of the worker has vanished from public consciousness. This lack could make The Worker of Tomorrow as the counterpoint of the Eretcing, since this one depicts a monument, which misses its idol.
Erecting (graphics)

Province models (solo exhibition, Žilina)
The Mechanics of the Canvas (group exhibition, Budapest)
50' Exhibition Series (solo exhibition, Budapest)
Exhibition of the 2007 Studio Prize-Winners (group exhibition, Budapest)


Artist-in-residence at Meetfactory, Prague. The It Was An Experience To Be Here! installation had been realized during a three-month residency in Meetfactory. For the installation, Csákány painted the working and living-space and everything he found there when he came, with pink paint. Only his private objects (and the plants) stayed untouched. The pink colour reflected the light differently from the previously white walls and dull items, it completely transformed the experience of being in the very same room. This work reflects on the special status of an artist in residency, who finds himself in the situation where he is forced to build up his own private sphere in the given temporary space. After the open studio event, he continued living in the pink space until the end of his stay. Nomination for "Aviva Art Award 2009".
Received grant from MeetFactory
Iconoclasm (group exhibition, Prague)
Vaccumnoise (group exhibition, Budapest)
It Was an Experience To Be Here! Open Studio (solo exhibition, Prague)
Aviva Art Award 2009 (group exhibition, Budapest)


He participated with the piece entitled Bernsteinzimmer (wood, bulb, contributors: Ervin Csákány, Ninni Wagner, sculptors: József Tamás Balázs, Andrea Gombos) at the exhibition The Science of Imagination in the Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest. With this work he created a huge, site-specific environment: a 1:1 all-wooden replica of the private workshop of a jack-of-all-trades. Recalling the workshop again emphasized the traditions and values of manual work. For this work he received the prize of AICA (Association Internacionale des Critiques d'Arts). Winner of BREUER IN PÉCS / BACK and FORTH - public art competition in memory of Marcel Breuer (2010).
Bernsteinzimmer (installation)
Suspended (graphics)


Received grant from Galerie Krinzinger
Lost Stories (group exhibition, Nowy Sącz)
AgriCulture (group exhibition, Dunaújváros)
GrafiTri - XXV. Miskolc Graphics Triennial (group exhibition, Miskolc )


He achieved great international attention at dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel. The installation entitled Ghost Keeping (mixed media, 2012). This monumental installation consists of two separate parts. One of them depicts a sewing workshop, disposed on a raised-up floor. The slightly larger than life-size machines are aligned in two rows with a corridor between them, and everything: machines, furniture, cables, lamps and other fixtures are elaborately carved from wood. The other part is made up of eight mannequins featuring three typical poses in the manner of socialist realism, on a long catwalk-like platform that runs along the workshop space. The original version of the poses was appropriated by the artist from real Hungarian, German and Soviet wall paintings or sculptures glorifying the socialist ideology of work. The figures wear elegant dark-blue special mining garment made in the sixties and have no heads or hands, as if they were ghosts.
Ghost Keeping
Ghost Keeping (installation)

Exhibition of Derkovits Fellowship Awardees 2011 (group exhibition, Budapest)
dOCUMENTA 13 (group exhibition, Kassel)
Haunting Monumentality (group exhibition, Berlin)
Nahe Ferne (group exhibition, Berlin)
donumenta 2012: "14 x 14 – Survey of the Danube Region." Positions in Contemporary Art. (group exhibition, Regensburg)
AiR Hungary 2011-2012 (group exhibition, Vienna)
The Other Half of the Sky. Selection From the Ludwig Museum's Collection (group exhibition, Budapest)


Solo exhibition, Do you hear what I hear? Do you see what I see? in Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna. His cooperation with the gallery dates back to 2011, when he participated in an artist-in-residence programme in Petőmihályfa, Hungary, ran by the Galerie Krinzinger. In the mentioned exhibition he displayed two objects. He is interested in passing through various media, but for him it is rather freedom that matters, not to tie his artistic activity to a single medium. The two-handed, physical work is also important to him in the work-flow and is often part of the concept. One of the displayed objects was Concrete Wreath (concrete, metal, 2013), a Bruce Nauman paraphrase, which is transformed to a robust funeral wreath made from concrete and reinforcing bars. Instead of plants and flowers, the wreath consists of hands, repeating an obscene gesture. The other object was Ground-breaking (concrete, 2013), which is an enlarged hammer. It was inspired by an archive picture from an inauguration ceremonial where a man is ramming the first pole of a new museum building (Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht) with a huge wooden hammer into the ground. Csákány combined the size and shape of the hammer with the heaviness und roughness of the concrete. The piece especially in the context of a (exhibition)space and other art works provokes an act of destruction. It reflects on the unavoidable destruction that goes along with building something new in the field of culture and art.
Doubleplusgood (solo exhibition, Budapest)
Adam, Eve & the Devil (group exhibition, Maastricht)
Speaker's Corner (solo exhibition, Stuttgart )
Isolator (group exhibition, Budapest)


Participated in Kochi-Muziris Biennial, Kerala, India.
Mirrow (installation)
Origin Unknown
Origin Unknown (sculpture)

The Cassini Cruise IV (group exhibition, Maastricht)
Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 (group exhibition, Kochi)


The exhibition Mirror Dimly was a solo show with older and new works, curated by Barnabás Bencsik in the Glassyard Gallery, Budapest. The exhibition included a specially built in the gallery, large-scale installation/environment two rooms made of wood entitled Desert and the sculptures Origin Unknown (concrete, reinforcing steel bars, 2016), Mirror (wood, textile, neon tubes, cable, 2016), Guard (metal, mirror, 2017), Rising Hammers (tropical wood, 2017). The environment and the sculptures could be considered as a psychedelic vision confronting the sophisticated contemporary intellectualism of the postmodern era with the inevitable consciousness of ecological disaster. The exhibition delivered a new connection with Csákány's earlier monumental concrete sculpture, which had not yet been exhibited in Hungary, and its tropical wood-based version, which combines the ideological burden of the hammer with the aesthetics and form of primitive art. (source:
Desert (installation)
Rising Hammers
Rising Hammers (sculpture)

Muzeum umění Olomouc 2011-2021