Syrian-born and Brooklyn-based artist Diana Al-Hadid (1981) is renowned for her lofty sculptures, wall pieces and surreal bronzes that appear to be in a state of ruin, a place between creation and destruction. Her practice spans media and scale and examines the historical frameworks and perspectives that shape our material and cultural assumptions. Al-Hadid’s sculptures, panel works, and works on paper are built up with layers of material and history. Inspired by myriad sources including historical architecture, Hellenistic sculpture, progressing science, myths and works by the old masters, her pieces can look like renderings from a fantasy world. Her rich, formal allusions cross cultures and disciplines, drawing inspiration, not only from the history of distance civilizations but also from histories of the materials themselves. Al-Hadid’s work is intricate studies of space and structure in which the viewer is continually reengaging the work through its constant shift and flow of perspectives.
Al-Hadid developed a unique process for her panels that evolved from material studies in her large-scale sculptures, but which owe a great debt to her flat work. They are created from common materials such as polymer gypsum, plaster, fiberglass, wood, and steel, and are where she in a movement of methodical layering and controlled drips create a combination of painting and sculpture. Not dissimilar to fresco, the technique is a combination of the material and pigment, which can be implemented site-specifically or mounted on a wall.
Her work borrows from a variety of sources ranging from art history to architecture and cultural history. A reoccurring reference in her work is the well-known oil-on-wood painting Allegory of Chastity (1479) by Hans Memling, portraying a woman piously standing in the center of an imposing mountain. Another repeated subject in her art is the Gradiva, a famous Roman bas-relief, which was the basis for Sigmund Freud's famous 1907 study Delusion and Dream in Jensen's Gradiva. She has also created a series of panels based on miniaturist Matrakci Nasuh’s documents from 1500’s Ottoman Empire and another series inspired by the German 16th-century manuscript The Book of Miracles, one of the most spectacular discoveries in Renaissance art. Architectural fragments and ruins have been a consistent source of both structure and meaning in Al-Hadid‘s work. Her sculptures often recall built constructions - cathedrals, pipe organs, towers, labyrinths, cities - yet are made of simple, often delicate or fragile materials.
Al-Hadid received a BFA in Sculpture and a BA in Art History from Kent State University in 2003, and an MFA in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond in 2005. She also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2007. She has had solo exhibitions at the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University, Providence, RI, NYU Abu Dhabi University Gallery, Abu Dhabi, UAE, The Vienna Secession in Vienna, Austria, the Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, OH, the Akron Museum of Art, Akron, OH, the Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA, the Weatherspoon Museum of Art, Greensboro, NC the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, the University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, TX, the Centro de Arte Contemporánea, La Conservera, Murcia, Spain, the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV, and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA. Her work is included in collections such as the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, and the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC. In 2018 and 2019 Al-Hadid has exhibited Sublimations at First Art Museum and Cheekwood Garden, Temperamental Nature at Berggruen Gallery, Delirious Matter at Williams College, Delirious Matter at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Delirious Matter at Madison Square Park Conservancy. She has also executed the permanent installation The Arches of Old Penn Station at 34th street Penn Station Stop in New York.