new-york

David Diao

Rosa Esman Gallery

It is said that there is modernist painting that does not argue—or rather, whose argument is purely visual. To reflect upon such painting one must be before it; it relies on ownership. And then there is modernist painting whose argument can be translated without undue distortion and thus possessed in a way that is not so blatantly consumerist.

I’m not sure how currently useful the distinction is; however, it sticks with me. When I first saw the work of David Diao, I thought of it in terms of the first category; I now see it more in terms of the second.

I do not mean that there is any painted word here, or any narrative to extract. Indeed, that this is unnecessary is one point that the painting makes. There are many more. For example, given the decomposition of its own motifs, the painting reveals that no object—or symbol even—is whole (i.e., separate); that figure and ground—and positive

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