12 January - 4 February 2023 Main Space

Pippy Houldsworth Gallery is delighted to present Conscious Unconscious, an exhibition that brings together new paintings by Katarina Caserman, Héloïse Chassepot, Saskia Colwell, Li Hei Di, Zoe McGuire and Alexis Soul-Gray. Each of the six artists explores the articulation and meaning of desire through diverse and distinctive methods, interrogating a range of connected themes, including fantasy, sexuality – in particular, the repression or suggestion thereof – and memory. These psychological compositions, whether highly abstracted or hinging on figuration, pursue an intuitive connection to organic matter, be it the natural world or the human body.

In her sensuous landscapes, Zoe McGuire creates a fantastical world, absorbed in both the internal and external. Curvilinear forms and sacred geometry are combined in compositions that meditate on a life force beyond that which we can see. Invested in both nature and mysticism – and the relationship between the two – McGuire’s symbolist paintings employ a jewel-like palette executed along a tonal scale.


Similarly Katarina Caserman’s paintings eschew objectivity and source material in favour of mediated imagery plucked from her own memories. Like McGuire, Caserman responds to the needs of a painting, putting aside colour and composition theory in favour of instinct. The sinewy contours of Caserman’s compositions may at first glimpse seem corporeal yet they grapple with such abstract concepts as thought, memory and time, giving form to the immaterial.


Caserman’s spontaneous process is echoed in Li Hei Di’s work, which explores repressed desire and her own sexual identity. The eroticism of Chinese literature, music and cinema is of crucial significance to Li’s work, which harnesses an Eastern attitude to sex and attraction. Exploring primal urges, her paintings capture seduction and flirtation in the fluid application of paint on canvas. Organic subject matter becomes abstract, submerged beneath painted veils or membranes.

In Héloïse Chassepot’s intuitive compositions abstracted hearts metamorphose across the canvas in waves of psychedelic colour. For Chassepot, the heart motif is significant for its triviality. Today, the symbol is conceptually inseparable with emojis and social media, used to indicate a ‘like’ but without any emotional commitment. As a cultural signifier it is devoid of any real meaning. Chassepot’s use of the visual language of girlhood – spirals and rainbow hues – reinforces the irony of the demonstrative status of the heart motif.

By contrast, Saskia Colwell’s tightly cropped, intimate paintings are executed in grayscale. In a new painting, she zooms in on a pair of crossed legs, rendered almost abstract by their compacted composition and soft-focus perspective. The unguarded intimacy of the image is sensual – Colwell invites a voyeuristic or even fetishistic reading of human desire. She invites the viewer to look beyond the naked image and to confront their own psyche.


The corruption of innocence is a key theme in Alexis Soul-Gray’s new paintings. The artist tarnishes and defaces appropriated imagery of idealised family life in the twentieth century, torn from family manuals, photograph albums, fashion catalogues and advertising, underlining the fragility of childhood and the family unit. There is an overwhelming sense of longing in her colour- and tear-streaked work that at once speaks of both violence and care.


About the artists:


Katarina Caserman (b. 1996, Ljubljana) lives and works in London. She earned a BA Fine Art Painting with honours at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Ljubljana in 2019 and an MA Painting at the Royal College of Art, London in 2022. In 2020 she was awarded the Ministry of Culture of Slovenia's Scholarship for Promising Young Artists. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including at Tabula Rasa, London (2022); DES BAINS, London (2022); and the International Centre of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana (2019).


Héloïse Chassepot (b. 1995, Paris) lives and works in London. She earned her BA Fine Arts at Haute école d'art et de design, Geneva, her BA Art History at the University of Geneva, and her MFA at Goldsmiths, London. Recent solo exhibitions include Downs & Ross, New York (2022); CAN Centre d'art Neuchâtel (2021); one gee in fog, Geneva (2020); and Lokal-int, Biel (2020). Group exhibitions include La Traverse, Ateliers d'artistes de la ville de Marseille (2022); Villa Emerige, Paris (2018); and HIT, Geneva (2018).

Saskia Colwell (b. 1999, London) lives and works in London. She earned her BA Fine Art degree at the Slade School of Fine Art, London in 2022, after completing a Foundation year at Royal Drawing School, London in 2018. She is currently an MA Painting student at the Royal College of Art, London. In 2020, she participated in Summer Lovin', Stems Gallery, Paris, curated by Joan Tucker & Henry Relph.

Li Hei Di (李黑地) (b. 1997, Shenyang) lives and works in London. She received her MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art and her BA (Hons) from Chelsea College of Arts and the Maryland Institute College of Art. In 2022, LINSEED Projects, Shanghai presented Li’s first solo exhibition, Tits at Dawn. Recent group shows include Downs & Ross, New York (2022), amongst others.


Zoe McGuire (b. 1996, Albany, New York) lives and works between Brooklyn and Detroit. She earned her BA Art History at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY in 2018 and is currently an MFA candidate at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI. In 2021, she was a finalist for the New American Painting Emerging Artist Grant. In 2022 she had a solo exhibition at Another Gallery, New York. Recent group shows include Gaa Gallery, Provincetown, MA (2022); Woaw Gallery, Hong Kong (2022); and The Boiler, New York, NY (2022).


Alexis Soul-Gray (b. 1980, UK), lives and works in Devon. She is currently completing an MA in Painting at The Royal College of Art, London. She earned a BA Drawing at Camberwell College of Arts, London in 2003 and is an alumni of The Royal Drawing School, London having completed the Postgraduate Drawing Year in 2007. She was the winner of the Delphian Open in 2021 and recipient of The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant in both 2021 and 2022. Recent solo exhibitions include Wetterling Gallery, Stockholm (2022); Irving Contemporary, Oxford (2022); Exeter Phoenix Gallery, Exeter (2022); and Delphian Gallery, London (2021).