Summating the work of David McDiarmid is no easy task. The late artist’s oeuvre spans almost a quarter of a century, traversing early forays into textile and fashion design alongside Linda Jackson, Jenny Kee and Peter Tully during the early 70s in Sydney, his Disco Quilts and various other shimmering re-imaginings of domestic handcrafts while on the club circuit in New York during the 80s, and his highly political and playful explorations of early Photoshop art prior to his death in the mid 90s.
Using text as one of his chief means, McDiarmid’s works vividly reframed and reappropriated urban and cultural discourses of the time, drawing on New York subway graffiti in the 80s and creating fake headlines that imbued the tabloid media’s vitriolic response to the AIDS epidemic with his own cheekily political inflection.
Curated by long-time friend Dr Sally Gray (the executor of his estate and copyright holder and curator of McDiarmid’s artistic legacy) alongside Neon Parc director Geoff Newton, The Rainbow Aphorisms of David McDiarmid features a series of computer-generated, laser-printed maxims glowing in a vivid, wonderfully garish colour spectrum. Created in Sydney in the final years of his life, they not only remind us of McDiarmid’s witty, divisive, intensely personal and political legacy as an artist, but point to the realities – some joyous, some traumatic – of the gay male experience in the 1990s.
The Rainbow Aphorisms of David McDiarmid opens at Neon Parc tonight (Thursday November 1) and shows until November 24.