Artist Rallou Panagiotou Is More Than a Material Girl

Kat Herriman

Rallou Panagiotou. Portrait by Yorgos Kaplanidis.

Artist Rallou Panagiotou splits her time between Glasgow and Athens, and it shows. Her work, which crosses composite sculpture, scanned prints and video, plays heavily on the classic and modern references that color these historically influential cities. “This geographical schism in my routine is very important to me,” the jet-setting artist explains. “I feed on a sensibility that makes use of Greece’s material reality and that’s where I produce most of my work, but I use Glasgow as my ‘study room’ and my ‘editing room,’ again dealing with actual materiality as if it is virtual and, sure enough, making it real again.”

Jumping back and forth between reality and fantasy, past and future, Panagiotou likes to fold binaries back in on themselves to create both material and immaterial doubt. Her marble trompe l’oeil bathing suits exemplify the way the young artist seamlessly collapses leisure and industry with a slickness that aligns her with peers like Pia Camil and Meriem Bennani. The attention she lavishes on her surfaces also brings to mind Jeff Koons and Andra Ursuta, both of whom have recast pool inflatables as rock hard objects.


My Toe, 2010.

Looking at Panagiotou’s deliciously polished marble and printed leatherette sculptures, one might mistake her for a strictly material girl, but she argues that her sculpture comes more from film than a postmodern interest in medium specificity. “I work as if I am creating new chapters or new episodes, always paying interest to a creative continuum,” she says. “Despite producing sculptural work with a potent materiality, I come to their form from cinematic processes, thinking of a virtual self that’s moving to different architectural settings as if they are stages or applying things to my very body. I then make ‘notes-to-self’ in terms of drawings and small texts.”


Outdoor Shower Cameo Blue, 2015 and Your Voice My Earring, 2010-2015.

Her most recent body of work stems from her exploration of an abandoned Greek resort from the ’70s, when the luxury market was rapidly standardizing to keep up with the demands of a new creative elite. “I am interested in these places of bliss and actual libidinal economy and what is left of them after modernization has run its course, rendering them what Rem Koolhaas would call ‘junkspace,’” Panagiotou says. “I excerpt elements from them like wearable commodities, architectural elements such as outdoor shower tubing, club lights and floors, and I return these indicators of leisure and luxury back to industrial processes using casts, marble components, scans and digital printing on leatherette, making them solid anew in an act of idiosyncratic détournement.” Investigating and romanticizing the meltdown of modernity, Panagiotou finds the beauty in the decay. This October, she will unveil her latest sculptural permutations at Ibid Gallery in London as part of a two-person show with David Adamo. Panagiotou is also one to look out for at Frieze London, where her works will be on view.


Photos Courtesy of Rallou Panagiotou