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2015.09.19 Sat - 2015.11.15 Sun
Opening Exhibition
09/18/2015 17:00
798 Art District, No. 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu Chaoyang District, Beijing, China 100015
+86 10 5780 0200
Opening Hours
Tuesday - Sunday, 10am-7pm
Philip Tinari 田霏宇

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David Diao
[Press Release]

David Diao (b. 1943, Chengdu) is a key figure in the history of conceptual painting during the second half of the twentieth century. This retrospective exhibition aims to elaborate and elucidate the thematic strands running through the last five decades of his oeuvre. Entering the New York art world in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, Diao first engaged, in his early work, the complex position of painting in the aftermath of the Abstract Expressionists and the formalist critical debates that followed them. Surprisingly, in the early 1980s he turned from process-based abstraction to a more conceptual way of working that incorporated text, iconography, and narrative subject matter as a means of addressing themes including the complex and varied histories of Modernism, the legacies of utopian political movements, the racially inflected tensions of identity politics, and the geopolitical poignancy of his own family story. Diao’s unique aesthetic sensibility—manifest in his palette and surfaces as well as his historical and biographical interests—has undergirded a long career that is now attracting renewed interest from major institutions, critics, and curators around the world.
The artist’s first full-scale retrospective, “David Diao” includes more than 115 works borrowed from public and private collections in North America, Europe, and Asia. The exhibition seeks to present Diao’s work as a field of visual and conceptual adjacencies from which multivalent, unexpected connections can emerge. It spans all phases of Diao’s career, from his early abstractions to a suite of paintings about his refugee years in 1950s Hong Kong, completed especially for the exhibition. Further groupings are dedicated to Diao’s ongoing interest in the work and career of Barnett Newman; the complex and intertwined histories of Modernism and revolutionary politics in Europe, Russia, and the United States; the mutually determined relationship between identity politics, masculinity, and institutional critique as seen in works that explore his Chinese-American identity and his putative career shortcomings; and architecture and memory, particularly in relation to Diao’s lost childhood home, the Da Hen Li House in Chengdu.

 刁德谦,《双龙 》,1999,布面丙烯、丝网印刷,183 x 396.5 厘米。私人收藏。 David Diao, Twin Dragons, 1999, acrylic and silkscreen on canvas, 183 x 396.5 cm. Private Collection

刁德谦,《双龙 》,1999,布面丙烯、丝网印刷,183 x 396.5 厘米。私人收藏。
David Diao, Twin Dragons, 1999, acrylic and silkscreen on canvas, 183 x 396.5 cm. Private Collection

David Diao
Born in Chengdu in 1943, David Diao left China in 1949, going first to Hong Kong and then to New York, where he has lived and worked for the past five decades. A graduate of Kenyon College, he has taught at Hampshire College, Cooper Union, and in the Whitney Independent Study Program. His work has been shown extensively in the US, Europe, and Asia, notably in a solo exhibition at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (2014). His work has also been included in exhibitions at the Albright-Knox Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, Vancouver Art Gallery, Brooklyn Museum, Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint Etienne, and Taipei Fine Arts Museum, as well as in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. He has been collected by institutions including the Whitney, SFMOMA, and Hong Kong’s M+ Museum of Art and Visual Culture. He was the subject of a major research conference organized by the University of Strasbourg in 2014, and was inducted into the National Academy in 2012.