David Diao is an artist who began making paintings in 1964, nine years after moving to New York from Hong Kong. His work is devoted to the lineage of abstraction and is grounded in his personal history as an immigrant of Chinese heritage. His works riff on famous Modernist paintings and borrow images and motifs from works by artists such as Ad Reinhardt, Jackson Pollock, Kasimir Malevich, and Barnett Newman. He uses catalogues, archival photographs, and ephemera as points of reference. The works are both tributes to, and interrogations of, the subject-artists' careers.
With the support of his 2015 Grants to Artists award, Diao prepared for his retrospective at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, which included 125 paintings. Since 1969, Diao has had solo and two-person exhibitions at Paula Cooper Gallery and Leo Castelli Gallery, and solo and group exhibitions at Postmasters Gallery, Chern Piin Gallery, Taiwan; Tanya Leighton Gallery; Courtyard Gallery, Beijing; the Arts Club of Chicago; Galerie “Westersingel 8" in Rotterdam; MC Contemporary, Madrid; the Musée d'Art Moderne in Saint Etienne, France; and the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Connecticut. In 2014, the University of Strasbourg hosted a colloquium on his work with a dozen papers presented by various art critics and historians.
Diao's work is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the High Museum in Atlanta, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, the Akron Museum in Ohio, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Blanton Museum at University of Texas at Austin, The Brittany Regional Contemporary Art Fund in France, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Prior to his FCA support, Diao received and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in painting (1973), grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (1990), and an Adolph and Esther Gottleib Foundation Grant (1993).
Diao received his B.A. from Kenyon College and was on faculty at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program from 1970 to 2000.