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'David Diao: Front to Back' opens at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
David Diao, (b. 1943), Double Rejection, 2012. Collection of Frank F. Yang, Hong Kong.

RIDGEFIELD, CONN.- This presentation brings together a selection of paintings that span the years 1971 to 2012, demonstrating a timeline of Diao’s sustained dialogue with Modernism, as well as his relationship to the art world and the critical establishment.

David Diao: Front to Back is the latest in a series of solo exhibitions that acknowledge artists whose early careers are closely connected with the history of the Museum. Larry Aldrich, the Museum’s founder, purchased one of David Diao’s paintings in 1969 and his work was featured in exhibitions at the Museum in 1971, 1987, 1992, and 1996.

Exhibitions director Richard Klein said, “The artist’s response to this history is an exhibition that references the idea of a retrospective, but casts it in the unique light of the body of work Diao has done that focuses on his own career as well as the nature of the art world in which he finds himself embedded. The title Front to Back implies a chronological read, and the exhibition does indeed include works from the beginning of the artist’s career as well as from the recent past; but the reference goes deeper, speaking of Diao’s ongoing interpretation of Modernism and, since 1984, the extensive use of text in his paintings.”

Klein continues, “Usually, art that is based in either the social or the political is ineffectual because the finger pointing is directed out towards the morally obvious. Diao, through his recent work, has held a mirror up to himself and the community he inhabits and the results are complex, nuanced, and often uncomfortably self-conscious—just like the truth.”

David Diao was born in 1943 in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. On the eve of the Liberation on October 1, 1949, Diao escaped with his grandparents to Hong Kong. His mother and siblings were left behind. At age 12 he was able to join his father in NYC. He earned his AB from Kenyon College, Ohio, in 1964 and then studied briefly at Cooper Union, New York. Diao first gained attention with his solo exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, in 1969. Two-person exhibitions followed the same year at Leo Castelli Gallery, New York (with Peter Young), and at Carmen Lamanna Gallery, Toronto (with Brice Marden). Since then, his works have been shown internationally and can be found in collections such as those of Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Museum of Modern Art of Saint- Etienne, France. In fall 2012, Diao mounted a two-person exhibition with Walid Raad at Paula Cooper Gallery; he was also included in the 20th anniversary presentation of Conceptual Abstraction at Hunter College, where, alongside earlier work, Diao presented his updated version of Barnett Newman: Chronology of Work (2010). He was included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial in New York and in March 2014 Universite de Strasbourg organized a colloquium on his work. His many honors include grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. David Diao lives and works in New York and has shown regularly with Postmasters since the opening of the gallery in 1985.

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