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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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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 (32)
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

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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