How do you get a painting to stand up on its own? At her Bushwick, Brooklyn studio and OHWOW Gallery in Los Angeles, artist Diana Al-Hadid creates a singularly hybrid artwork, transforming brushstrokes on a wall into architectural sculpture. Al-Hadid works alone in her large studio, projecting a composite image constructed from parts of Italian Renaissance paintings onto a far wall. “I love storytelling, I love stories, and I love novels and characters. But there’s a part of me that resists that kind of specificity. I like to hold back and be more ambiguous,” says Al-Hadid. Listening to an audiobook of Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel Anna Karenina, Al-Hadid lays down an equally grand image on the studio wall, quickly painting out an ambitious figurative scene with slashing brushstrokes. Later, Al-Hadid’s assistants “back” these individual strokes using a mix of gypsum, fiberglass, and plaster, painstakingly preserving the liquid energy and lyricism of Al-Hadid’s original gestures. Al-Hadid and her assistants then peel the backing off the wall and dramatically reveal what now looks like an expanse of delicate medieval tracery. “With every project, I’m kind of asking, how can I re-think this process that I’ve become familiar with?” asks Al-Hadid. Installed at OHWOW Gallery, the work has yet again been transformed. Seamlessly melded into the gallery’s white walls, the once painting is now a floor-to-ceiling sculpture—a threshold between the space’s front and back in which the artwork’s negative space creates an opening that viewers can walk through. Featuring the works Sinking and Scaffolding (2015), Smoke and Mirrors (2015), and Smoke Screen (2015) from the exhibition Ground and Figures.

Diana Al-Hadid (b. 1981, Allepo, Syria; raised in Cleveland, Ohio, USA) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

CREDITS | ART21 New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Producer & Editor: RAVA Films. Cinematography: Rafael Salazar & Ava Wiland. Additional Camera: Marc Levy. Sound: Nick Ravich & Ava Wiland. Design & Graphics: Open. Artwork: Diana Al-Hadid. Music: Mike Link & Harvey Taylor. Thanks: Nick Joyce, OHWOW Gallery, Lydia Ruby, Tantor Media, Inc., Marichris Ty. An ART21 Workshop Production. © ART21, Inc. 2015. All rights reserved.

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5 Responses to Diana Al-Hadid Plays the Classics

  1. Pingback: Diana Al-Hadid Plays the Classics | ART21 Magazine

  2. Langlet Marielle says:

    I wish one day I could come and see your oh wow work ! C’est fantastique ! Bravo 🙂

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  3. Tutto E. Bene says:

    Can this artwork be considered an expertly done, big regionalist drawing?

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  4. Elizabeth Unpingco says:

    Congratulations on developing a unique and beautiful process. I always wonder where do these pieces go once you are finished showing them. As you make more and more, are all eventually sold or stored and then where?

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