Elena Papanikolakis, Inside, inside, outside, 2–30 July, 2022
Cursive Esses, 2022, oil on unstretched canvas, 140 × 109 cm
, previous, next.

Inside, inside, outside

The view out of your eyes right now is of finger-like leaves fidgeting against the breeze. Some are keeping time with the invisible pusher; others stir at half beat. The sky slips away with the sun. Everything desaturates. 

First, you read through the whole text to see if it has potential. A pounding in your chest works its way to your hand, urging it to scratch out words. The path narrows until you reach a tiny gap that is almost impossible to squeeze through. You squeeze through.

Overhead, a fan slices the air at volume. Behind you, a bird burrows into the wall. A guitar is plucked in the distance. 

After hours of making other people’s food, you finally get to eat. It’s a chicken schnitzel roll with the fresh tomatoes. Your body slacks as it relaxes, your fatigue merging with the heat of the afternoon sun. You sit with your back to the shop called ‘Paradise’ because this way it ceases to exist. 

Later, you walk through a familiar room in the dark. You effortlessly glide past the edges of furniture, closing your eyes as your body slips through space. 

By the light of a full moon you sift through promises, while doors open, windows crack and fissures bloom. To touch this substance is to be seduced. You watch its form shift and shed until it can be known. 

In the quiet of night your mind drifts as you teeter on the edge of sleep.

You are floating on your back in the ocean. Sounds rise and fall as your ears bob below the surface. Across the peninsula, a camera softly focuses on the idea of the thing, then the memory of it. In perfect stillness it remains unseen. The end follows the beginning and slithers to a full stop.    

—Elena Papanikolakis, 2022



ReadingRoom is proud to present Inside, inside, outside an exhibition of new work by Elena Papanikolakis. This is Elena’s second solo exhibition with the gallery.


Inside, inside, outside explores multiple lines of inquiry relating to internal processes and external encounters. Consisting largely of oil paintings on unstretched canvas, this exhibition is underscored by an emphasis on intuitive working methods and an engagement with fragment and feeling.


Elena Papanikolakis lives and works on Gadigal Land (Sydney), Australia. Her practice is centred around juxtaposition and melds together found materials, personal and cultural remnants, and memory to probe the nature of consciousness and being, and experiences, function, and authenticity. She is interested in exploring the periphery of understanding and the potential presented when observations are unravelled through degrees of abstraction. Her works are heavily invested in material processes and often consist of painting, collage, and text. 


She was the recipient of the 2018 Ursula Hoff Institute Award for Postgraduate excellence in Visual Art and Music, as part of the National Works on Paper Prize at Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery. She has also been awarded the Art Gallery of New South Wales Paris Studio, the 2016 Eva Breuer Travelling Art Scholarship and NAVA’s NSW Artists’ Grant. She has undertaken numerous residencies including the Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris) and Parramatta Artist Studios.


Her work has been included in numerous exhibitions including: SLIPPERY WHEN WET at Olsen Annexe, Light Matter at Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney, There is Fiction in the Spaces Between 2019 John Fries Award at UNSW Galleries, Sydney; Primavera 2017: Young Australian Artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Parramatta Artist Studios at Artspace, Sydney.


View Elena’s ReadingRoom Artist Page here