David Diao’s From Er Niang is part of a cycle of works entitled Da Hen Li. Created between 2007 and 2008, the series unearths Diao’s memories of the Da Hen Li house, his childhood home in Chengdu, China. Diao lived at Da Hen Li until the age of six, when he emigrated to Hong Kong, shortly before the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Thirty years later, upon returning to his home town for the first time, Diao discovered that his former family residence had recently been razed to the ground, leaving almost no record of its existence. Comprising paintings of various sizes and media, including hand-drawn and ruled floor plans, silk-screened property deeds, laser-printed sketches, and texts in English and Chinese, the cycle is the artist’s attempt to trace his childhood through a personal recollection of Da Hen Li’s spaces.
From Er Niang, which means ‘from my aunt’, is one of several works in the cycle that remap the floor plan of the Da Hen Li house according to members of Diao’s parents’ generation who resided in the house. Here, the title suggests that the hand-drawn plan at the centre of the canvas is based on the description of the Da Hen Li compound given by Diao’s aunt. Each floor plan in this series differs slightly in scale, orientation, and spatial arrangement, reflecting subjective experiences and distinct memories of the space.