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4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale: Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life Ocula Report 4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale: Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life 15 Feb 2019 : Natalie King for Ocula

'Poems are like sentences that have taken their clothes off.' Marlene Dumas' poetic and sensual refrain accompanies her figurative watercolours on view in Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life, the fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) in the southern state of Kerala, India (12 December 2018–29 March 2019).Dumas' new series...

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Ellen Altfest Ocula Conversation Ellen Altfest

The paintings of Ellen Altfest are ethereal in their detail. Fields of minutiae come together as pulsating images; small brushstrokes of oil paint accumulate over a series of months to single out seemingly innocuous subjects, such as a hand resting atop patterned fabric (The Hand, 2011) or a deep green cactus reaching upwards from beneath a bed of...

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Colomboscope 2019: Cross Currents and Dissonance Ocula Report Colomboscope 2019: Cross Currents and Dissonance 8 Feb 2019 : Nada Raza for Ocula

On the rooftop of the former Rio Hotel complex in Colombo, it was hard to ignore the high-rise buildings, still under construction, blocking all but a sliver of what used to be an open view over Slave Island, once an island on Beira Lake that housed slaves in the 19th century, and now a downtown suburb. The hotel was set alight during the...

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David Diao

b. 1943, China

The painter David Diao was born in 1943 in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. After the Chinese Civil War he lived in Hong Kong from 1949 to 1955, and then settled permanently in the United States. He has lived and worked in New York City since 1964.

By the late 1960s Diao had established himself in the tradition of large-scale late modernist abstraction—he was included in the first Whitney Biennial in 1973—but his career hinges around the period in the late 1970s and early 1980s when, having actually stopped painting entirely, and spending a year in Paris, his painting made a fundamental conceptual shift. Rather than continuing to make abstract paintings, in 1984 Diao began to produce work that took the history of abstraction as its subject matter. He paid particular attention to the life and work of Barnett Newman and to Russian constructivist artists among others. Marked by sharp intelligence, humor, and a degree of cynicism, and often combining the look of hard-edge abstraction with the appearances of diagrams, plans, and charts, this established the intellectual and stylistic basis for the whole of his subsequent career. He increasingly combined flat areas of paint with screen printed text and images. Eventually, as his career lengthened and acquired its own history, increasing autobiographical elements entered his work. At first these related to the factual details of his painting career, but eventually they focused increasingly on Diao’s childhood in Chengdu and Hong Kong.

In 1985 Diao began showing at New York’s newly founded Postmasters Gallery. He has since had a dozen solo shows there. In the autumn of 2015 the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing staged a retrospective of 115 works, his largest ever exhibition. He continues to live and work in the same building he has occupied since 1974.

Robert Ayers | Ocula | 2017

Featured Artworks

View All (31)
Looking back at De Stijl by David Diao contemporary artwork David DiaoLooking back at De Stijl, 2010 Acrylic on canvas
173 x 223.5 cm
Office Baroque
Colonial Games 3 by David Diao contemporary artwork David DiaoColonial Games 3, 2010 Acrylic on canvas
52 x 24 inches
Office Baroque
For Scale Sake by David Diao contemporary artwork David DiaoFor Scale Sake, 2010 Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas
213 x 274.5 cm
Office Baroque
Colonial Games 2 by David Diao contemporary artwork David DiaoColonial Games 2, 2010 Acrylic on canvas
52 x 24 cm
Office Baroque
Little Suprematist Prison #30 by David Diao contemporary artwork David DiaoLittle Suprematist Prison #30, 1986 Acrylic on canvas
24 x 18 inches
Office Baroque
Green Chalkboard (Melnikov) by David Diao contemporary artwork David DiaoGreen Chalkboard (Melnikov), 2012 Acrylic on canvas
208.3 x 228.6 cm
Office Baroque
Untitled by David Diao contemporary artwork David DiaoUntitled, 1975 Acrylic on canvas
116.8 x 127 cm
Office Baroque
Barnett Newman: Hanging by Chains (blue) by David Diao contemporary artwork David DiaoBarnett Newman: Hanging by Chains (blue), 2014 Acrylic on canvas
127 x 178 cm
Office Baroque

Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, David Diao, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors at ShanghART, Beijing
24 May–24 July 2018 David Diao Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors ShanghART, Beijing
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Prelude / Subversion at Gallery Baton, Seoul
18 October–19 November 2016 Group Exhibition Prelude / Subversion Gallery Baton, Seoul

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Artist Insight: David Diao Ocula Insight Artist Insight: David Diao By Robert Ayers

In a career spanning more than half a century David Diao has conducted a many-faceted exploration of the assumptions and comprehension of contemporary painting, which has been underpinned by vast erudition, a sharp critical intelligence, and a sustained sense of humour. Not surprisingly he enjoys a reputation as an insightful and stimulating...

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