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Research Postgraduate Seminar

David Diao: To Paint a De-Aestheticized Picture

Date: 10 April 2024 (Wednesday)
Time: 5:30-7:00pm
Venue: CPD 2.45, Centennial Campus, HKU
Speaker: Alex Jen, MPhil candidate, HKU


David Diao, perhaps by his own creation, has long been an artist difficult to classify. Emerging in the storied New York art world of the 1960s, which gave rise to such movements as Pop, Minimalism and Conceptualism among others, Diao took a studiously uncommitted position and developed a citational painting that continues to this day. His lasting concern has been the history of abstraction as he was, or failed to be, a part of it; in turn, by banalizing the life and practice of the artist in his paintings — detailing legendary exhibitions, sales records and stereotypes — Diao has laid bare the myths and structures that organize art history and the art world itself. This presentation provides an overview of my research with a focus on Diao’s early career from 1966 to 1973, wherein he actively (and humorously) refused conventions of persona and process in the pursuit of a “de-aestheticized” painting.


Alex Jen is an MPhil candidate in Art History at The University of Hong Kong. His criticism on art, architecture and poetry has appeared in Frieze, The Financial Times, Gulf Coast and other venues, and he has curated projects at galleries and artist-run spaces in Chicago and Taipei. A graduate of Williams College, Jen was previously the Special Assistant to the President and Director at The Art Institute of Chicago.


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