For decades, Diao has injected deeply personal, even confessional content onto the placid surfaces and into the untroubled spaces of Modernism by way of a formal vocabulary grounded in the conventions of presentation diagrams, plans, text. The new work retains its erstwhile formal elegance and restraint, but rueful humor is replaced by a seething emotional undertow stemming from the artist’s inherited memories of his family’s displacement and fragmentation at the hands of the Chinese government.
Quaytman works in a mode of painting/silkscreen hybrid, an at once middle-brow and mass-produced liminal form that is ideologically adrift between the elite and the unique in a way that recalls Warhol. The show quietly crackles with ideas about production; perception and legibility; the nature of the “image;” and the play between painterly and photographic values.
The artist softens his vigorous brushwork using a blending brush, a staple of the realist painter’s tool kit, relying too heavily on an admixture of white to sidestep the chromatic muddiness that would otherwise ensue. In places this unexpected technique imparts a smeary appearance, while elsewhere the forms are so hairy-looking you want to take a big comb to them.