Born 1943, Chengdu, China. Lives and works in New York.
Berlin Chair in Pieces, Postmasters, New York
David Diao: Traces of Modernism, Gazelli Art House, London
David Diao, ShanghART, Singapore
New Work, Office Baroque, Antwerp
Chambres d’Amis: Ikea, Office Baroque, Antwerp
Coloring, University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington, Kentucky
Bauhaus: Utopia in Crisis, curated by Daniel Sturgis, Bauhaus University, Weimar
From his first widely lauded series on the constructivists: Little Suprematist Prisons, 1986 up to today, Diao has consistently redeployed the formal characteristics of the early modernists and pioneers of abstraction. In his latest investigation of the period, he references the Russian artist and designer El Lissitzky’s series “Proun." Lissizky broke with his constructivist colleagues over his use of three dimensional space and references to architecture – signaling a world of objects and relationships outside of art for art’s sake. Diao continues this theme by pairing Lissitzky’s curves with emblems and ciphers of those that followed Lissitzky but who preceded Diao, building a century-long narrative arc and associatively coupling formal elements into new compositions.
'Seal 2' pairs Lissitzky’s curves with the stamped Chinese characters roughly translating to, "Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.” These lines of verse lent their name to a short lived campaign of debate initiated by Mao Zedong in 1956 in which intellectuals, students and everyday citizens of China were encouraged to share their critiques of the communist regime. Seven years after he fled mainland China, and one year after he left Hong Kong for New York City, Diao did not witness this event himself. His reflection as an emigre is a somber one, as the climate of open discourse was quickly clamped down in 1957 and the years that followed. Many individuals who were critical of the Maoist government were subsequently interned at prison labour camps.