Jirka Pfahl – Biography

black &and white photography of Jirka Pfahl

Jirka Pfahl saves potted plants disposed in trash cans from death, and successfully nurtures them back to health. He positions square seating surfaces and non-objective paintings in the exhibition space and challenging us − »punch« −, to hit them. He brought back an almost rotten carpet he found on streets of Moscow to his studio, and uses its reverse side as a printing block. He plays his game with art − as he also does with us.

In this way he reveals himself in a highly subtle manner: the artist, born in Wurzen, in 1976, has dedicated himself to a kind of paradox: on the one hand, his works display conceptual features while, on the other, they become tangible, connotative material in space. He turns and uses words, reflects on art history, and establishes hitherto unseen connections. Texts written about the artist frequently describe his works as Concept Art. Such classifications fail to fully hit the mark, however, since Pfahl goes one step further. His works also exhibit a process of appropriation – both with respect to materials as well as to concepts and works by colleagues and great artists in history. The things Pfahl uses have a history and give voice to their materiality, whether mundane things such as banknotes, cable ties, Ketchup bottles or plasterboard walls. He began executing works of self-referential net art, such as »ftp-performance« (with Leander Seige), and undertook a critical study of file formats.

Among others, Jirka Pfahl studied media art with Beatrice von Bismarck at the renowned Academy of Visual Arts (HGB) in Leipzig, and was a student in Helmut Mark’s master class. He also studied under Joseph Kosuth at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich. Together with three fellow students he ran the Off-Space (gallery) »Hobbyshop« in Munich from 2005 till 2008, which he co-founded in 1999.

(Solo) Exhibitions:


  • pictones, Laura Mars, Berlin
  • Handwerk & Voyerismus, Galerie Christian Pixis, Munich (solo)
  • Grafiktriennale Belgrad, ULUS Galerie, Belgrad


  • apiece, Laden für Nichts, Leipzig (solo)
  • Hotel Moscow artplay, Moscow
  • sassy, Galerie Jaap Sleper, Utrecht


  • schwarz/weiss Symmetrie, Kunstraum München, Munich (solo)
  • COLORAMA, Galerie Christian Pixis, Munich (solo)
  • FIN DES SIÈCLES, Lettisches Zentrum für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Riga (solo)
  • Lubok in Mexiko, Museo Nacional de la Estampa, Mexico City


  • over and out, glue im SCHAU-Fenster, Berlin
  • Talente. Kunst vor dem Anfang der Kunst, Galerie Royal, Munich
  • Wir belohnen Sie, Kunstraum Ortloff, Leipzig


  • Master Class Student’s Exhibition at the HGB Gallery, Leipzig
  • SNU, GfZk Leipzig, as part of the project 'Raum 107' (solo)
  • Salsa, Künstlervereinigung Dachau (solo)


  • Wir Ihr Sie, Kunsthaus Erfurt (solo)
  • it's all cool, Galerie Christian Pixis, Munich (solo)


  • Gedanken zur Revolution, universal cube, Halle14, Spinnerei Leipzig
  • Neues Wetter, universal cube, Halle14, Spinnerei Leipzig


  • Jirka Pfahl: Purgatorium. Leipzig (Lubok Verlag) 2013 (accompanying exhib. cat. for the exhibition »apiece«, Laden für Nichts, Leipzig, Nov. 23-Dec. 22, 2013)
  • Tina Schulz: Jäger und Gejagter, in: »ausderkunst«, Frankfurt/M. (gutleut-verlag) 2006, at the same time A4, vol. 5: Jirka Pfahl
  • Daniela Stöppel: »Degré Xerox« or »Der studierte Medienkünstler Jirka Pfahl aus Sachsen leistet Beistand«. Überlegungen zu den Zusammenhängen zwischen Medienkunst, Conceptual Art und Gesellschaft, in: Jirka Pfahl SNU. Leipzig (Lubok Verlag), 2010
  • Jānis Taurens: L’Ensemblier 2 (2012, Visit July 3, 2014)
Author: Matthias Kampann