The Sir Denis Mahon Award Exhibition 2021 at the Royal Drawing School

Dilip Sur and Deanio X
Studio visit – September 2021

Deanio X (Drawing Year 2019) is the recipient of the 2020-21 Sir Denis Mahon Award, which is presented annually to one recent graduate of the Royal Drawing School’s postgraduate programme, The Drawing Year. This award allows them to develop their practice and supports them to make new work, providing them with funding for a studio space, as well as a solo exhibition in the School’s Shoreditch gallery at the end of the year.

Originally due to open in April 2021, and delayed due to the restrictions of the pandemic, Deanio X’s solo exhibition, Tempered Carbon, will be on view in the Royal Drawing School’s new gallery space from 14th to 29th October 2021, showing over 40 works, spanning Deanio X’s time from the end of The Drawing Year in 2019 to the spring of 2021.


In his own words, “Tempered Carbon is a metaphor that has come to represent for me 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 world of unprecedented dangers. They must find a way to overcome this new chaos by mastering themselves and their immediate environment. I have been preparing for this moment of sharing the work that I have been producing since the Drawing Year. The world was in a state of disruption. It wasn’t just the pandemic that everyone was dealing with. Protests and outpouring of emotions took the artwork in its own direction. I have tried to use as many mediums as possible : chalk, charcoal, ink, acrylic, oil and water on surfaces such as wood, paper and aluminium. By combining unconventional mediums, you learn to take risks and you remind yourself that new perspectives are awaiting discovery”.

Dilip Sur, artist and tutor at the Royal Drawing School, was a mentor of Deanio X’s throughout the Drawing year. He says of the exhibition:

Every work of art is a beginning. Each piece of work is embryonic. The making of art is nothing but autobiographical; I see this as being especially true in Deanio X’s work. This is what I sensed in his work from when I first met him and I see it even more now. He has a literary background and he is very aware of history and more and more he is becoming “Deanio X”. That ‘X’ is evolving. As artists, we raise questions, we do not solve. It is not our duty to solve, or tell people what to do. Art, poetry and music are reactions to the reality of what we are passing through – that will be our honest statement, or honest expression of ourselves. What really touches our soul, so that it can touch the soul of others”.

‘Petri’ (2021) by Deanio X
acrylic, charcoal, graphite, ink and water on aluminium
100 x 100 cm

Magpie’ (2021) by Deanio X
acrylic, chalk, charcoal, graphite, ink and water on canvas
100 x 100 cm

Carbon Spectre IV
acrylic, chalk, charcoal, graphite, ink and water on wood
183 x 183 cm

In this short film by Jonny Guardiani, Deanio X introduces the works that will be in the exhibition.


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