Kenyon College

David Diao (American, b. China 1943)


David Diao began making paintings in 1964. He had immigrated to the US only nine years prior and the retelling of this pivotal journey is still a rich subject for him to this day. The influence of Minimalism, Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting is ever present in his work and he often directly references works by artists participating in those movements; such as Ad Reinhardt, Jackson Pollock, and Barnett Newman. Another key feature of his work is the inclusion of archival material. Diao utilizes this material to supplement his own memory of past events and many of his canvases include archival photographs and ephemera as focal points.

After graduating from Kenyon in 1964, Diao studied at the Cooper Union in NYC where he continues to live and work. He was also a faculty member of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program from 1970 to 2000. Diao’s paintings are included in many major collections, including the Hirshhorn Museum, MoMA, Whitney Museum of American Art, SFMOMA, and others.  In 2014, Diao’s work was featured in a solo show at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and, in 2015, a large-scale comprehensive retrospective was organized by The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing.

Image credit: Photo by Kristine Larsen and courtesy of Postmasters Gallery.