Diana Al-Hadid is known for her practice that examines the historical frameworks and perspectives that continue to shape discourse on culture and materials today. With a practice spanning sculpture, wall reliefs, and works on paper, Al-Hadid weaves together enigmatic narratives that draw inspiration from both ancient and modern civilizations. The artist's rich allegorical constructions are born from art historical religious imagery, ancient manuscripts, female archetypes, and folkloric storytelling frameworks. Framed by a host of references from antiquity, cosmology, cartography, and architecture, Al-Hadid's work gives form to ghostly images abstractly rendered in materials as various as steel, polymer gypsum, fiberglass, wood, foa, plaster, aluminum foil, and pigment. Al-Hadid's process-based explorations innovate from commonplace industrial materials. Their formidable presence sits steady in the lineage of creation and construction that we associate with empire, complicated by an often-elegiac tone.
One these architectural associations, Aruna D'Souza has said, "Thought Al-Hadid is known for making work that is engaged with architecture--imagining the body as a kind of scaffold or superstructure, using materials commonly found on building sites--it is anti-architectural in one crucial way: it is a product of intuition, of responsiveness in the moment, of seeing what's there and what needs to come next, of having a vision and allowing it it to develop according to its own logic. Though she draws upon a deep understanding of what is possible given her long engagement with her chosen materials and methods, there is no set plan, no strict blueprint, no predetermined schematics."
Al-Hadid's large-scale sculptures layer these figurative, landscape, and architectural elements to decontextualize the historical circumstances they reference. In 2018, the artist presented Delirious Matter in Madison Square Park, New York, featuring six female figures -- The Grotto and Gradiva; Citadel; and three called Synonym. Balanced between ruin and regeneration, these elusive figures communed to form a kinship of women through the history of art. Described by Al-Hadid as "somewhere between fresco and tapestry," the artist's three-dimensional wall panels emphasize her skilled gestural brushwork. Holes and gaps form not from puncture, but through controlled dripping, methodically reinforced in a delicate interweaving of mass and void. Their abstractions variously recall both human creations and those of the natural world: the swirling drapery of fine fabrics, or the slow drip of cave matter. These forms have been realized as hanging objects, architectural interventions, and most recently as outdoor installations.
She was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1981 and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She 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 in 2005, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2007. She has been the recipient of a Joan Mitchell Grant, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant, a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, and a Pollock-Krasner Grant. She is also a USA Rockefeller Fellow. Her mosaic murals for NYC’s Penn Station were among 100 finalists for CODAawards, an international competition honoring public commissions that integrate interior, architectural, or public spaces. In 2020, she received The Academy of Arts and Letters Art Award.
Al-Hadid has had solo exhibitions at the The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY in collaboration with Madison Square Park, NY, The Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA, 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, Spain, the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV, 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, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC, the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA, and the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece.