Diba's work is characterized by a highly sophisticated and restrained use of material and color. He employs only local or recycled materials, paying homage to them as they are transformed in the creative process into a thing of beauty and a work of art. The cloth strips sewn together across the width of the canvas are arranged vertically as a visual acknowledgment of what Diba considers to be a dominant characteristic of African sculpture--verticality.
While Diba's work often appears to be primarily two-dimensional in its conception, he also introduces elements which suggest the third dimension through the addition of wrapped or knotted strips of cloth or the creation of a pocket or enclosure that contains a packet or a bundle of contrasting material. In "Plantlike Evocations," a pocket is created to the right of center and contains a packet painted in a contrasting vibrant red color. In addition, the far right edge of "Plant Evocations" consists of a number of wrapped and knotted sections of cloth.
Painting on an almost square canvas composed of vertical strips of cloth painted a modulated light green color. A pocket is sewn onto a vertical strip to the right of the center. Inserted into this pocket is a red packet which is attached to a red cord whose other end is affixed to the top center edge of the canvas. An unpainted wooden board is attached vertically to the right edge of the canvas. Knotted strips of cloth are individually wrapped around this board down most of its length except for its lower edge which is covered with red cloth.
Contemporary African Art, 1999
Healing Arts, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., September 2016 - ongoing
Encounters with the Contemporary, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., January 7, 2001-January 6, 2002