Elena Papanikolakis lives in Sydney/Eora and works across painting, collage, and text. Drawing widely and without hierarchy, Papanikolakis unravels disparate source material to rebuild it anew; intertwining and making sense of personal, cultural, and found fragments, and traversing abstraction and figuration to at once reveal and conceal. Her practice is grounded by a curiosity in the components, remnants, and structures of the everyday, including the function of those that frame, document, describe and imagine, and their narrative, poetic, and material potential.
Ranging from snippets of memories, thoughts, and feelings; to artefacts, literature, the natural world, and the book page, Papanikolakis uses observation and imagination to explore multiple lines of inquiry; hinting at possible interpretations whilst encouraging the viewer to engage in the act of looking. Concerned with materiality, her work often retains evidence of the artist’s hand through tactile works containing trace of studio practice, via smudges and handling marks, as well as cut and torn edges, and irregularly shaped canvases and supports.

Papanikolakis was awarded the Ursula Hoff Institute Award for Postgraduate excellence in Visual Art and Music, as part of the National Works on Paper Prize (2018); the Art Gallery of New South Wales Paris Studio (2016); the Eva Breuer Travelling Art Scholarship (2016); and NAVA’s NSW Artists’ Grant (2015). She has undertaken numerous residencies including the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris; Megalo Print Studio and Gallery, Canberra; and Parramatta Artist Studios, Sydney. Papanikolakis has been a finalist in the John Fries Award (2019); the Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award (2019); Fishers Ghost Prize (2016) and Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship (2007, 2008).

Her work has been included in numerous exhibitions including: SLIPPERY WHEN WET at Olsen Annexe (2021); Light Matter at Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney (2019); There is Fiction in the Spaces Between, John Fries Award at UNSW Galleries, Sydney (2019); NEW SACRED, Mosman Art Gallery (2018), Sydney; Primavera 2017: Young Australian Artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (2017); and Parramatta Artist Studios at Artspace, Sydney (2015). Further exhibitions including Papanikolakis’ work have taken place at Firstdraft, Verge Gallery, Watters Gallery, Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Tributary Projects, and Penrith Regional Gallery.

Papanikolakis’ practice has been featured in publications including Art Collector, Artist Profile, Art Guide Australia and Neos Kosmos.

is represented in Melbourne/Naarm, Australia by ReadingRoom.

Elena Papanikolakis in her studio, 2022.