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Dora Földes is the self-taught artist who painted in the closet and decided to be an artist in another life. Then she realized that she needed to pursue her dream and went for it. Now she paints colorful works of art, inspired by the circle of life and works as a full-time artist. Meet the amazing Dora Földes!

8 min read

Hi Dora!  Can you tell us about yourself so our readers can get to know you a little bit better?

- I am a painter living and working in rural Germany in an old farmhouse, not too far from Berlin. I was born in Hungary, raised between Paris and Budapest. Around a year ago we moved from Berlin to a nearly 200 years old Dreiseitenhof with my husband and son. We live here, on the path to homesteading, close to the rhythm of nature.

Is art something that has always been present in your life, like during the time you were growing up and in your family? And, will you tell us a little bit about how you started painting? 

- None in my family or direct surroundings was an artist as I grew up. Living as a young child in Paris, my mother brought us very frequently to the Louvre and other museums. We had a lot of art and art history books at home and these experiences have certainly greatly influenced my affinity for art. As many of us, I like to recall my childhood memories of painting and drawing. I could disappear in this acticivity, not knowing a lot about the outside world. As a child I was always predicted to pursue an artistic life - back then it was more going to be performance art. Though, at first life brought me on an academic path - with years of higher education in philosophy, psychopedagogy and public policy -  to then let me guide myself back to painting and art.  

Dora Földes in her studio

I read that you, at first, had an anonymous instagram page for your paintings when you were pursuing your academic career. Will you tell us some more about that?

- Yes, so I was finishing my master’s degree in Public Policy, but I was also painting - in the closet so to say. I did not really dare showing my work, or even admit to anyone that what I really wanted to do was art. I said to myself: don’t worry, you’ll be an artist in your next life. But then I was like, what if there is no next life. I better don’t take the risk, so I at least started an instagram for my paintings. That was at a time when instagram just started to be popular - in the early 2010’s. Through this profile I managed to show my work, get feedback and encouragement.

After reading the interview with you in Herz & Blut, I fell in love with your home. Will you tell us a little bit about the decision to move and about the transition from city to countryside, and also what it has done for your creative process?

- As we spent almost all our free time in nature or in rural surroundings it was clear for a while that we wanted to live in the country. After our son was born, the urge got bigger - and finally the first lockdown pulled the trigger. We were lucky to find this house just in time before the wave of people moving out of cities. It's a 200 years old former guesthouse/farmhouse with loads of outbuildings and a big garden. We have a nice size kitchen garden, we keep chickens and just about to move in some beautiful sheep. The space and pace of this new life feels really how I was meant to live, and for my art too - it feels like it all falls to its right place. Being a full time artist, living and working in this surroundings is something I pinch myself for every day.

Dora Földes Studio

Have you tried other mediums than painting and drawing, and if so which are those? If you haven't, which ones are you interested in trying?

- Several of my series of paintings involved stitching and sewing canvas together. In the Milk and Blood series, some pieces felt more like sculptures with many layers of different fabrics and paint. But in general I stick to painting and drawing. I am intrigued by clay work - but honestly, who’s not? I also have had some smaller plaster sculpture ideas in mind for a long time now - but yet to be birthed. 

What inspires your work? 

- My current work is inspired by death. It’s a candy paper wrapped homage to this pivotal certainty of life - if you were born, you can be certain of one thing only: you will also die. It will happen to all of us, it is the most egalitarian aspect of life. Yet we can know nothing of it, and as much as it is probably the only certainty in life, it is also the biggest uncertainty we can think of. No one knows when it is going to happen and what happens when we die. But I really like Schopenhauer’s words: “After your death, you will be what you were before your birth”. Imposing the idea of circularity and renewal that we encounter in nature everywhere to what happens after death is absolutely comforting and is an inspiration for my latest body of  work. On another regard, I am also forever inspired by the raw and genuine art created outside of the institutionalized art world, let it be children´s art, folk art or outsider art. 

Dora Földes; "For she has borne you and will take you back", 2022

I read that you previously owned a vintage store in Berlin (Grus Grus). Do you see any connection between art and fashion in your process? Do you see any similarities and/or differences in these two businesses? 

- Interesting question, it’s the first time I’ve been asked it. Well, I guess the sewing part that I mentioned before could be linked to clothing. I did a lot of repairing and mending work on those beautiful vintage finds, and I treasured them even more if I could see traces of the life they had before. I seem to have a similar approach to including handwork in my art. It is certainly also related  to my fascination with earlier century domestic arts and crafts classically created and consumed by women. Each gender had pre-determined skills to attain, and this gendering led to a clear distinction between the professional artist men and the amateur women in the fields of art. As one of the bread-winners of our family, I especially love bringing in handwork and craft elements to my work and shed light on this gendering and the social attitudes to women’s arts and crafts of the period.

It's no secret that Berlin has a vibrant art scene. Even though you don't live in Berlin permanently I get the impression that you spend some time there. My question is therefore: What´s your experience of the German and or Berlinian art scene? And do you have any favorite galleries or museums that you would like to highlight?

- I am now rarely in Berlin, and getting more and more of an outsider every day. But I used to love small artist led galleries (these came and went in the last decade) and among the more established ones I would mention the whole of Auguststrasse galleries, and for museums or art spaces, KW Berlin, Boros Collection, Palais Populaire or the newly reopened Neue Nationalgalerie.

Dora Földes; "Portrait of a Universe, dreaming of itself (Detail)", 2022

What kind of art do you have in your own home? What makes you see an artwork and go wow?

- I have only a few of my own art hanging temporarily on our walls. I have several etchings and oil paintings I thrifted in antique stores. I also have an Alexandra Karpilovski drawing and a small oil painting from Ben Walker. And saving up for my next art purchase.

How do you relate to digital platforms connected to art. Which benefits do you see?

- I showcase and sell my art almost exclusively through Instagram, which is kind of crazy. I also have a shop on my own website which I now rarely use because collectors find me directly. I think platforms like Artworks are very helpful to reach new audiences, and it makes promoting and selling your work very easy. The platform is very well organized, uploading works is totally uncomplicated. And I love the “See the art on a wall” feature (laughs).

Dora Földes; "For she has borne you and will take you back, Untitled (detail)", 2022

What are your plans for the future, or for the near future? Do you have any upcoming exhibitions, collaborations and things like that that you want to share with us?

- Currently life plans take over at the momenet since we are hosting a Ukrainian family in our home, and everyday life needs some more planning than before. But I have two shows planned  in Berlin for this year - and I am currently working on a bigger commission that also slows me down a bit - so I hope to be able to keep deadlines. 

Can´t get enough of Dora? Check out her instragram here: @foldes_dora