Review: Diana Al-Hadid sculptural paintings: Such beautiful decay


The drip becomes form in Diana Al-Hadid’s latest work at Ohwow Gallery in Los Angeles. Known mostly for sculpture, the Brooklyn artist has more recently created wall works in which the paint appears to be floating on air. In nine pieces, including one spectacular, site-specific piece, Al-Hadid filters Renaissance imagery through the lens of drippy abstraction and decay. Her work is beautiful and technically marvelous.

Al-Hadid creates her works by “painting” in polymer gypsum, fiberglass and plaster, forming a loose image in trails and drips over a wall-like support. She then pries the image off the backing, resulting in a stiff, lace-like scrim. It’s like a fossil of a painting.

Her imagery, often highlighted with gold leaf, is abstract and gestural but refers to Renaissance-era subjects: aristocratic or religious portraits, a rendering of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy. With Al-Hadid’s signature technique, these images appear to decay before our eyes, as if they are literally being eaten away. The drip itself is a form of decay, tracking time that has passed since the touch of the painter’s brush.


There’s something theatrical and almost operatic about this work, and Al-Hadid brings us further into the drama with a stunning archway built into the wall between two galleries. Here, we literally walk through the painting as it rains down over our heads.

Ohwow Gallery, 937 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 652-1711, through May 16. Closed Sunday and Monday.