How to Stop Worrying and Love the Art World

The art world is so often a stage for posturing that even the most difficult pose can sometimes be one of enjoyment. The opening of David Diao‘s retrospective “TMI” exhibition at Postmasters Gallery proved happiness is possible, though. And how fitting, for Postmasters Gallery’s last show in Chelsea before decamping for new digs, that this one celebrates the joys and absurdities of the art exhibition.


“TMI” (the press release charmingly explains, at the end, for those with “NEI,” perhaps, that “TMI = Too Much Information”) asks, among other things: what else is there but information? Diao has been commenting on art through his art for over four decades, but some works have an information-age prescience that seems only now to be fully realized. Take 1995’s “Slanted MoMA,” for example:


Slanted MoMADavid Diao, Slanted MoMA, 1995 (acrylic and vinyl on canvas). Photo: Courtesy of the artist


Using non-expressive data to create emotive face icons was not new then, but now, when it is maybe more common than actual facial expressions, the work takes on an even broader relevance. Both smiley and frowney faces are made from informative text about his 25-year retrospective at MoMA. The most personal fact, his name, is stretched into slanted eyes, as referenced in the title. By visualizing the brute simplification of stereotypes, the work mocks not only on how Western art audiences might perceive his non-Western-seeming name, but also how data makes stereotypes of us all.


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