Deanio X: Tempered Carbon | Sir Denis Mahon Award Exhibition 2021

Exhibition dates: 14 – 29 October 2021
Private View: 5 – 8:30pm, 14 October 2021
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 8.30am-9pm & Saturdays 9am-4pm
Address: 19-22 Charlotte Rd, London EC2A 3SG
Admission: Free, no booking required

Royal Drawing School presents Tempered Carbon, a solo exhibition from artist and Drawing Year alumnus Deanio X. It features over 40 paintings and drawings selected from a body of work produced over the last 20 months through the support of the Sir Denis Mahon Award. Deanio X’s work is characterised by visual narratives rooted in observation of the human figure which re-tell hidden histories, and an experimental materiality.


Tempered Carbon is a story of perseverance in the face of hostile psychological, physical and social environments.

Deanio X

“Tempered Carbon is a story of perseverance in the face of hostile psychological, physical and
social environments. The work centres around a child, or children, who find themselves thrown from the impossible security of the womb, into a new world of unprecedented dangers. They must find a way to overcome this new chaos by mastering themselves and their immediate environment.”

– Deanio X, October 2021

Stay Strong!-III

The prestigious Sir Denis Mahon Award supports one postgraduate student each year in the development of their practice with a focus on drawing from observation. The prize of £10,000 goes towards studio space, mentorship, and a solo show, which is usually held a year later but, on this occasion, was postponed due to COVID-19. The award period was marked not only by the pandemic, but also Black Lives Matter protests, which are woven into the artist’s work.

DOJA. 2021

Rooted in drawing from research and observation, Deanio X takes inspiration from a wide range of visual and literary sources, and the intersection of African, Caribbean and global cultures. Materials are central to his explorative process, as he employs an array of media including chalk, charcoal, ink, acrylic and oil, on unexpected surfaces like wood and aluminium. He works across a range of scales – from intimate portraits of NHS workers in his ‘Stay Strong’ series, to his powerful ‘Carbon Spectre’ paintings of over 3 metres wide.

PETRI. 2021.

In September 2020, the School commissioned Deanio X to create a mural to add to his ‘Stay Strong’ route around London. The route was created at the height of the pandemic and antiracist protests as a message of strength and resilience to key workers, above all those from minority ethnic communities who have been disproportionately affected by coronavirus. The mural, ‘Fall of the Spectre’ marked the reopening of the School’s studios and celebrated the expressive power of the artist to respond to the moment, and reinstated the colour and energy of the Notting Hill Carnival, which was cancelled due to COVID-19.

This will be the first exhibition held in the School’s new Gallery Studios. Over the summer of 2021, the ground floor of our Shoreditch campus has been transformed into a new purpose built studio and flexible gallery space. It now comprises two large, fully equipped drawing studios, with high ceilings and an abundance of natural light, which can be converted into a contemporary exhibitions gallery. The new space has been designed by architect Simon Hurst, who is known for his intelligent and sympathetic work with Listed Buildings as well as in conservation areas and new developments. The Gallery Studios are kindly supported by Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem.


©2021 DEANIO X, Royal Drawing School

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