David Diao (b. 1943, Chengdu, Sichuan, China) is the one of the preeminent Chinese-American painters of his generation. His most recent works, debuting at West Bund, bring together themes that have been threaded throughout Diao’s five-decade oeuvre: the confluence and tension of East and West, identity politics, family history and autobiography, and the lineage of avant-garde abstraction.
The fourteen paintings presented at West Bund combine Diao’s family history with iconography of Western Modernism. Traditional Chinese seals and personal inherited objects are shown alongside the logo of modernist furniture company, Herman Miller. Other paintings reference the Russian avant-garde. El Lissitzky’s monogram and letterhead are deployed as compositional elements, and Kazmir Malevich’s 1915 painting Black Square and Red Square is found in works like Actual Scale and Suprematist Herman Miller, the latter of which borrows Malevich's formal arrangement. Such couplings—between Chinese history and European Modernism—suggest a bridge between two worlds, cultures, and styles.