David Diao “Design Matters”
The paintings of David Diao are vivid and sustained demonstrations of our age's stormy relation with its modernist origins. Diao's passionate interest in the genealogy of modern architecture, design and, of course, painting forms the starting point of his work. Yet his interest is focused on the inevitable inconsistencies to be found in any account of modernism. Diao prefers to mine the
paradoxes that modernism throws up for any serious student of its long and varied theory and practice.
Fully aware of the need to allow alternative explanations to flourish, Diao weaves these often competing stories of modernism into a compelling and surprising fabric. The self-assured certainty of modernist architecture, design and visual art is challenged at every turn with wit and a rare poetic
sensibility. The historicism of modernism is repeatedly challenged by the messy reality of life and the perversion of its doctrine of purity and progress. Memory, personal taste and the sheer contingency of our individual situations force us to look again on the cultural monuments of our glorious past.
The iconic figures and sites of modernist architecture are fair game for Diao's incisive works of art.
As always, Diao begins by presenting a revelatory personal encounter with a particularly beloved modernist work.
So, a visit to Philip Johnson’s Glass House nets a snapshot of Diao lounging in the living area. As the artist seeks to inhabit the spirit of these chosen structures or enthuses about the extraordinary precision and purity of their design, he also unmasks the ghost in the machine. The largely overlooked, though hilarious fact of the shrinking rug that sets the stage for the wonderful
Barcelona chairs that Johnson chose to offset his own homage to early Continental modernist architecture becomes the real truth of architecture and design
Diao memorializes a 1992 visit to to Mies van der Rohe’s Tugendhat House by representing other, baser necessities in the form of a bright yellow streak across the building's venerable though slightly shabby facade.
A vintage map giving the locations of the numerous examples of modernist domestic architecture in suburban Connecticut highlights the sad fact that many have been demolished or are now at risk.
There is always some incongruous element that Diao introduces to derail what appears to be an uncomplicated rhapsody to modernism. That he manages nevertheless to conjure elegant pictures of undeniable grace out of moments of pathos and comedy is a testament to his gifts as an artist.
David Diao was featured in "High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting 1965-75" which traveled to numerous museums in the US, Mexico and Europe (2006-2008.) His first solo in Germany at Tanya Leighton in Berlin, "Best Laid Plans" was in 2009. More recently in 2010 he had a solo in Antwerp at Office Baroque Gallery. His work is also in a current show in Paris at Fabienne Leclerc/In Situ. Concurrent with this show, Galeria Marta Cervera is also presenting “DAVID
DIAO Da Hen Li House:I lived there until I was 6...” at our other gallery.
Diao's work is in the collections of, among others, MoMA, NY, Whitn ey Museum of American Art, NY, Brooklyn Museum, NY, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, MOMA, San Francisco, CA, Blanton Museum, University of Texas, Austin, TX, FNAC, France, MOMA, Saint Etienne, France, FRAC, Burgundy and Brittany, France, Ontario Art Gallery and Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada.