Pakesch began to study architecture, but also started working early as an artist. His first experience as a curator was from 1976 until autumn 1979 at the Forum Stadtpark and the steirischen herbst. In 1980 a study visit to New York brought important meetings and participation in activities in the field of Fashion Moda, and the Times Square Show.
After his return to Austria, Pakesch opened his own gallery in Vienna in 1981, where he organised first exhibitions with artists such as John Baldessari, Herbert Brandl, Ilya Kabakov, Mike Kelley, Martin Kippenberger, Sol LeWitt, Albert Oehlen, Franz West and Heimo Zobernig. In 1986 together with the politician for cultural affairs Helmut Strobl he founded the Grazer Kunstverein, which he presided until 1988 as artistic director. In that function he published the interdisciplinary journal Durch. For the Wiener Festwochen, together with Hubert Klocker he organized the project Protect Me From What I Want, a partnership of Jenny Holzer and Keith Haring. In 1990 in collaboration with John Schlebrügge he founded the Fama & Fortune Bulletin, which appears sporadically.
In 1993 Pakesch closed his gallery in Vienna. In the 12 years of his work as a gallery owner, he made Austrian artists such as Franz West and Heimo Zobernig internationally known. In the following years he worked as a freelance curator for the National Gallery in Prague and in 1996 he took over the position as director of the Kunsthalle Basel. There he showed the first museum exhibitions of young artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Michel Majerus and Althamer, pursued the renovation of the historic building and reorganized the local annual exhibition to a format that is as 'Regional' still presenting an important large-scale exhibition between Mulhouse, Freiburg and Basel. From 1996 to 1998 as a member of the Soros International Advisory Board he visited countries of the postcommunist world.
Since 2003 Pakesch has been manager and artistic director of the Universalmuseums Joanneum, and thus of the Kunsthaus Graz. In these years this oldest public museum in Austria was radically renewed for its 200th anniversary. In the context of the reopened Kunsthaus in 2003, Pakesch was responsible for several landmark exhibitions, and most recently for the double exhibition Warhol Wool Newman - Painting and Screening Real - Conner Lockhart Warhol.