Piraeus

View of “Christodoulos Panayiotou,” 2021. Photo: Stathis Mamalakis.

View of “Christodoulos Panayiotou,” 2021. Photo: Stathis Mamalakis.

Christodoulos Panayiotou

Rodeo | Greece

There was a doubling at work in this exhibition, “January, February, May, June, July, August, September, October, December,” which had a complementary iteration, “March, April, November,” in Rodeo’s London gallery. “I am bringing to London marbles from Greece,” the epistolary press release for the pair of exhibitions crowed. In the Piraeus gallery window stood nine colorful handblown glass vases, each one named for a month of the year. Inside, the stone-walled warehouse space was filled with objects that seemed unexpectedly transposed from somewhere else. The gallery’s back room was bisected by a handsome redbrick wall, a re-creation of the facade of Rodeo’s Mayfair address.

More surface textures could be sampled in two cutout pieces of painted drywall, each exhibiting a different, very 1990s finish. Hung by the gallery entrance was a piece of copper covered in a turquoise patina. Some things from the past looked archaic or a bit corny, and others terribly fresh. Awning (all works cited, 2021) is a smart red affair with a scalloped, white-piped edge. A closer look revealed a steady dribble of water beading over its top to drip slowly onto the floor in a rather more subtle iteration of the illuminated fountains for which Panayiotou is well known.

Panayiotou’s letter quotes Virginia Woolf’s psychogeographic exhortation to dig “deeper than the eye approves.” Maybe we should consider new, or at least more oblique, ways of seeing. In the back room, the brick wall was reflected in a polished sterling-silver plate (Untitled), distorted like a fun-house mirror. Cut into the metal was a little hinged door that opened onto a golden panel, in reference to an icon of the Virgin Mary at the Kykkos Monastery in the artist’s native Cyprus. Notably, this icon is never directly looked at, for to do so is believed to blind the viewer; only its bottom third is uncovered.

But nothing here was quite as it seemed at first glance. That brick wall was made of Styrofoam and cement; its title, The Fourth Wall, gestured toward the thinness of the theatrical illusion. And an industrial-looking table covered with colorful spray paint? It turned out to be made of honed gray marble, its cryptic tags simple quarry markings. Rectangles of popcorn-effect stucco were actually house paint and plaster on foam board, re-creating the walls around the artist’s Athens studio, and the color on the copper sheet was painted on. I thought of Georges Bataille writing that everything in the world is a parody of something else—that lead is the parody of gold just as air is the parody of water and so on—but Panayiotou was not producing a tableau of material parodies so much as deploying mimesis.

At play here was a dramaturgical logic. Works felt like bits of scenery or set dressing for a play abandoned in medias res and subject to the ravages of weather and time. There were no thespians here, however, save for a black-and-white portrait of former teen idol Christopher Atkins, the male lead in the hit 1980 movie The Blue Lagoon, showing him now sixty years old—another study in aging. A few blocks away, ferries were coming and going. Behind the fourth wall, an elegantly cast-silver horseweed plant—an invasive North American species—pushed up through the hardwood floor.