London | Beijing

The Sky above the Roof
Lydia Blakeley, Nell Brookfield, Clémentine Bruno, Kristy M Chan, Yulia Iosilzon, Alicia Reyes McNamara, Amy Steel, Sofia Stevi
June 25 - August 14, 2022

Tabula Rasa Gallery is pleased to present “The Sky above the Roof” at our Beijing gallery, featuring Lydia Blakeley, Nell Brookfield, Clémentine Bruno, Kristy M Chan, Yulia Iosilzon, Alicia Reyes McNamara, Amy Steel, Sofia Stevi, seven of whom receive their China debut.

“The Sky above the Roof“ originated from a well-known poem by the French poet and social activist Paul Verlaine, written when he was in prison at Mons. At his darkest moment in life, he imagined: “The sky above the roof, how calm and blue!” By referencing to this poem, this exhibition — either by juxtaposing different works with each other, or showing a single artist’s presentation in an enclosed space — celebrates the transcendental power of arts. It recalls moments of intimacy between individual minds and bodies, it embraces fantasies, dreams and the power of healings, and it champions individual power in the face of transnational hegemony.

Lydia Blakeley

Lydia Blakeley (b. 1980, Bracknell, UK) currently lives and works in Yorkshire, UK. Her subject matter is the world around her, or rather, the world translated through the screen of her phone camera or her laptop. She constantly records or screenshots what interests her in the flux of visual imagery that she is surrounded by and then uses that source material to make paintings that have a viewpoint that might be described as being grounded in a very particular sense of British, or perhaps even English, cultural identity.

Blakeley’s process of making paintings of such seemingly disparate subject matter has an effect of filtering those subjects through a particular sensibility. The rapidness and overwhelming nature of visual culture are slowed, perhaps even momentarily stilled, by the process of selection and the act of painting. Something that might have been meant for the most transitory consumption is made into something else that will last far longer. There is an evenness to the surface of her paintings that results from the consistency of this technique but this process also brings out a certain evenness of gaze. Whilst there is a definite distance between the painter and the subject, Blakeley never satirises or does down her subject. Blakeley’s works pay homage to the different imagined communities and subcultures that make up contemporary Britain. The worlds of dog shows, horse racing, UK garage, middle-class aspirational cookery and millennial cat-meme fans all jostle up against each other providing a deadpan patchwork of what has made Britain become what it is.

Lydia Blakely completed her MFA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths in 2019 and her BFA with honours from Leeds College of Art in 2016. She was featured in the group exhibition Mixing it Up: Painting Today, at Hayward Gallery (London, 2021), a phenomenal institution exhibition that brought together 31 most significant contemporary painters in the UK. Her upcoming exhibitions include The Sky Above the Roof at Tabula Rasa Gallery (Beijing, 2022), The High Life, solo show at Southwark Park Galleries (London, 2022).

Nell Brookfield

Nell Brookfield (b. 1994, London) currently works and lives in London. Brookfield offers humorous and bizarre compositions taken from her everyday experiences. Inspired by people around London, films, and books, Nell paints from observation, memory and imagination with acrylic and oil paint on linen. Unexpected crops show intimate sections of what could be larger works, asking the viewer to imagine what might lie just beyond the composition. Each work is covered in detailed patterns and texture, accentuating the charged moments. Nell hopes the viewer will consider what it would be like to reach out and touch the fabrics she paints, or exist within the work.

Nell Brookfield completed her postgraduate in Drawing from the Royal Drawing School in 2018 and received her BSc in Anthropology from UCL in 2017. Between 2019 and 2020, Nell studied Drawing and Painting at the Pratt Institute in New York. She was awarded a residency at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2018. Her first solo exhibition You Are What You Eat was held at Eve Leibe Gallery (London, 2021), followed by another solo exhibition When the Knife Hits the Plate, Scream at Niru Ratnam Gallery (London, 2022). Previously she has shown work with Guts Gallery, Matchett and Page and Christie’s in the UK, September Gallery and RISD in the USA and Linseed Projects in Shanghai, China. Her upcoming exhibitions include The Sky Above the Roof at Tabula Rasa Gallery (Beijing, 2022), Platform: London by David Zwirner (2022) and solo exhibition at Duarte Sequeira Gallery (Portugal, 2023).

Clémentine Bruno

ClIJmentine Bruno (b. 1994, Paris) lives and works in London. She received her MFA in Painting at UCL Slade School of Fine Art, London in 2019 and BA in History of Art and Fine Art at Goldsmiths in 2017. 

Her recent exhibitions include a two-person exhibition with Adam Gordon at Chapter NY (New York, 2021), solo presentation at Frieze London (2021), solo exhibition Ironclad Contract and Then We Are Both Satisfied at Project Native Informant (London, 2020). Her recent group exhibitions include Not Before It Has Forgotten You, Nicoletti Contemporary (London, 2022), For some bags under the eyes,  Sans Titre (Paris, 2021), Storytelling, Stoppenbach & Delestre (London, 2020), Project Native Informant (Art Basel Miami Beach, 2020), Flick Ratio: Degenerative Origins Between the Third Possibility, Space 52 (Athens, 2019) and Studio 59 (London, 2018), Plotting The Thinginess of The Thing, Slade Research Centre, London (2018), among others. Bruno is part of an ongoing collective project, B. W. (BAMBI WOODS), through which she received the NEON Contemporary Art Exhibitions Grant in 2019. Her upcoming exhibition include The Sky Above the Roof at Tabula Rasa Gallery (Beijing, 2022).

Kristy M Chan

Kristy M Chan (b. 1997, Hong Kong) lives and works between Hong Kong and London. Her work traverses figuration and abstraction to form energetic, intuitive and autobiographical compositions. Departing from surreal and dizzying junctures in contemporary life, Chan describes her works as ‘stolen realities’. Predominately working with densely applied oil and oil sticks, Chan’s paintings are a visual archive of intense personal interactions situated amongst the fleeting dynamism of the city. Living between Hong Kong and London, Chan’s paintings incorporate subject matter from the perspective of an outsider, imagining the interplay of how her identity is informed by both Eastern and Western cultures. As Chan has described, her painting process functions as an acute way to explore the ‘relationship between a displaced self and the search for a notion of home.’

Kristy M Chan completed her her MA in Contemporary Art from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in 2020 and BFA from UCL Slade School of Fine Art in 2019. Her recent exhibitions include Strong Cookie, Prior Art Space (Berlin, 2022), An Arcadian Kind of Love, Soho Revue (London, 2022), Femme-Ate, Soho Revue (London, 2021), Space Shuffler, HART HAUS (Hong Kong, 2021), Totally Not, solo exhibition at The Artist Room (London, 2021), Big Soft Illusion, Alte Handelsschule (Leipzig, 2020), and Haam4 Seoi2 Goeng1, Hong Kong Visual Art Centre (2019). Her upcoming exhibitions and residencies include The Sky Above the Roof, Tabula Rasa Gallery (Beijing, 2022) and residency programme at The Cabin (Los Angeles, 2022).  

Yulia Iosilzon

Yulia Iosilzon (b. 1992, Moscow, Russia) lives and works in London. Her paintings evoke a dreamworld of human-plant hybrids and playful childhood memory, tinged with the quiet menace of mythology. Figures and faces emerge from the surface of the canvases before dissolving into foliage, water, and the bodies of animals. The paintings contrast chaos with control, and baroque abundance with boldly delineated segments of colour.

Yulia Iosilzon graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MFA in 2019 and the Slade School of Fine Art with a BFA in 2017. She has won several prizes for her work, including the Bloomberg New Contemporaries prize in 2019 and the Audrey Wykeham Prize in 2017. Her recent exhibitions include Frogspawn, Sapling Gallery (London, 2022); Platform: London, David Zwirner (London, 2022), Amanita Muscaria, De Brock Gallery (Knokke, 2022), Nocturnal, Foundry Seoul (Seoul, 2022), A Chorus of Beauty and Menace, Carvalho Park (New York, 2021), The Big Fish!, Berntson Bhattacharjee (Stockholm, 2021), Paradise is Not Just a Place, duo exhibition with Ana Skaldmann, Roman Road (London, 2021), among others. Her upcoming exhibition includes The Sky Above the Roof at Tabula Rasa Gallery (Beijing, 2022).

Alicia Reyes McNamara

Alicia Reyes McNamara (b. 1984, Chicago) lives and works in London. Her works include multiple mediums such as painting, drawing, moving image and sculpture. As a Mexican-Irish American, Reyes McNamara’s works draw consistently on the fluid concept of bicultural identity where she explores ideas of displacement and diaspora, specifically within the Latin diaspora. The surreal, exaggerated figures in her painting acknowledge the contingency of the world of shapeshifting feminine energy, conveying both a sense of curiosity and uneasiness. Reyes McNamara’s more recent work has focused on Mexican and Irish water mythology which redefines the hypersexualized depiction of female goddesses, providing them with a female agency.

She received her MFA at the University of Oxford Ruskin School of Art in 2016. Her solo exhibitions include From Within, Niru Ratnam Gallery (London, 2021), All that they hold, Barbican Arts Trust (London, 2019), Es y No Es, Kiosko Galeria, Santa Cruz (Bolivia, 2018), amongst others. She has been featured in institutional group exhibitions such as Nowhere Else, South London Gallery (London, 2017), Bloomberg New Contemporaries, selected by Alan Kane, Anya Gallaccio & Haroon Mirza at ICA (London, 2016) and Liverpool Biennial, Bluecoat (Liverpool, 2016). She has completed residencies include Chisenhale Studio4 Residency (2021), New Contemporaries Studio Residency and Grant in partnership with Hospitalfield Residency (2021), ArtWorks Open Artist in Residence, selected by Tai Shani and Emma Talbot, Barbican Arts Group Trust (London, 2019), and Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts Residency (USA, 2019), South London Gallery Graduate Residency in London (2016-2017). She was also awarded the Jerwood Bursary (2020), a-n Artist Bursary (2020), and the Chisenhale studio summer residency (2020). Her upcoming exhibitions include group show The Sky Above the Roof, at Tabula Rasa Gallery (Beijing, 2022), London Open at Whitechapel Gallery (London, 2022) .

Amy Steel

Amy Steel (b. 1981, UK) lives and works in London. She completed her MFA with distinction in 2019 from the Slade School of Fine Art and her BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths University London in 2015. Steel was awarded the ACME Post Graduate Studio Award in 2019.

Her recent exhibitions include We Are The Ones Who Know, solo show, Soho Revue (London, 2022), How it happened, solo show, Niru Ratnam Gallery (London, 2021), Visions, curated by Benedict Drew, Nunnery Gallery (London, 2020), FBA Futures, Mall Galleries (London, 2019), Ripe Beings, White Crypt (London, 2019), Bite, Barbican Arts Trust Group (London, 2018), Holiday, ARCADE (London, 2018), Drip Dry, Chalton Gallery (London, 2018), Up River, Centre for Contemporary Art (Bulgaria, 2017), Arte Laguna, Nappe Arsenale (Venice, 2016), New Performers, Toynbee Studios (London, 2015), Salirpohilia, Arcadia Missa (London, 2013). Upcoming exhibitions include The Sky Above the Roof, Tabula Rasa Gallery (Beijing, 2022), group show, Haze Projects (London, 2022), group show, curated by Ludovica Capobianco, Case Gallery (Los Angeles, 2022).

Sofia Stevi

Sofia Stevi (b. 1982, Athens, Greece) lives and works between London and Athens. She is a graduate of Central Saint Martin’s School of Art & Design of London (2009). She makes paintings, sculptures and works on paper. Drawing inspiration from literature, philosophy and the every day, her works bring together a wide range of references, from the writings of Victorian poet Christina Rossetti to found images on Instagram. Stevi also co-founded Fokidos 21 in 2013, an artist-led project space in Athens, and Friary Road House poetry press.

She has completed her mural The Wave at Mavili Square, Athens, commission by Onassis Foundation (2022). Her recent exhibitions include Meeting House, two-person show with Rachel Howard, Galeria Pelaires, Palma (Spain, 2021), The Somnambulists, Alma Zelvi (Venice, 2021), Sisterhood: Steaming Voices Unifying Energies, curated by Angelo Plessas, Haus N (Athens, 2020), Construction site of Exceptional Feelings, the Breeder Gallery (Athens, 2020), We don’t have to learn something new, solo show, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery (London, 2019), Nature of Justice, curated by Amri Spirito, St’ Anne’s Warehouse (New York, 2018), Turning forty winks into a new decade, solo show, BALTIC Center for Contemporary Art (Gateshead, 2018), The Equilibrists, Benaki Museum, Athens, organised by the New Museum, New York and the DESTE Foundation and curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Gary Carrion-Murayari and Helga Christoffersen (2016). Her upcoming exhibitions include The Sky Above the Roof, Tabula Rasa Gallery (Beijing, 2022) and Song without an Ending, solo show at the SocietĦ delle Api (Monte Carlo, Monaco, 2022, ongoing).

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Tabula Rasa Gallery  (London)