Artist David Diao Leaves Postmasters Gallery for Greene Naftali

His debut exhibition at the Chelsea gallery will be held in November.

Asian American middle-aged man wearing glasses and brown coat holds glass of champagne
David Diao has long been represented by Postmasters Gallery. Will Ragozzino/PMC/Patrick McMullan.

Artist David Diao is moving to Greene Naftali, according to an announcement published on April 25 by the contemporary gallery.

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Diao, 80, was previously represented by Manhattan’s Postmasters Gallery for nearly 40 years. His first solo exhibition with Greene Naftali, located in Chelsea, is set to take place in November.

“Over five decades, David Diao’s paintings have dismantled the tenets of modernism from within, exploring the shadow side of its reductive geometries as a source of untapped potential,” said Greene Naftali in a statement.

An acrylic painting with a green background and the words What Ever Happened to Hedda Sterne painted in blue
Diao’s ‘What Ever Happened to Hedda Sterne?’ Courtesy David Diao

Born in China’s Sichuan province, Diao fled to Hong Kong in 1949 during the communist revolution and later immigrated to the U.S. After graduating from Kenyon College, he took various jobs at art galleries and museums in New York City, including a stint as a sweeper-upper at the Kootz Gallery and an art handler at the Guggenheim.

Diao’s minimalist, conceptual compositions eventually attracted the art world’s attention. Diao had solo exhibitions at Paula Cooper in 1969 and 1970 and was included in the first Whitney Biennial exhibition in 1973. He worked at Hampshire College in the 1990s and has been a long-serving faculty member at the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program, which instructs artists, curators and historians.

What is “Postmasters 5.0”?

Represented by Postmasters since 1985, Diao held 14 exhibitions with the gallery “through thick and thin,” according to an emailed statement from Postmasters founder Magdalena Sawon. His most recent exhibition at the gallery, Berlin Chair in Pieces, featured thirteen paintings and was held from January through March of 2022.

In June, Postmasters, which was founded in 1984, vacated its Tribeca space after losing a legal battle with its landlord. It has since followed a nomadic model it calls “Postmasters 5.0,” hosting shows across different spaces in New York.

“Clearly I think David Diao is a tremendous artist,  the last giant of painting that is finally, FINALLY, getting his due,” said Sawon, adding that Diao’s career can benefit from a more traditional and conventional gallery structure. “I am proud of our work with David and wish that Greene Naftali Gallery continues on the path to assuring his legacy.”

Diao is additionally represented by the Office Baroque gallery in Antwerp and Tanya Leighton in Los Angeles.

Artist David Diao Leaves Postmasters Gallery for Greene Naftali