Bio & Statement
Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico – and raised in New Jersey. In 2009, David D. Oquendo completed his undergraduate degree at Rutgers University (Newark Campus), earning a BFA in Painting and a Minor in Art History. While attending Rutgers, Oquendo was mentored by the late Denyse Thomasos; in addition to earning the Creative Achievement in Fine Arts Award – for outstanding accomplishment in fine arts reflecting creativity and dedication.
In 2012, he earned an MFA in Painting from Montclair State University. Oquendo has shown his work in New Jersey, New York, Florida, United Kingdom; as well as created murals throughout New Jersey and New York. Oquendo's most notable exhibitions are a 2016 solo show at Solo(s) Project House in Newark, NJ, a 2017 solo show at the Henao Contemporary Center in Orlando, FL, and a 2018 solo show at The Collective Art Tank in Asbury Park, NJ. Currently David is an Art educator through The Robeson Galleries at Rutgers University, and an Adjunct Professor at Bard Early College in Newark, NJ.
For a handful of years, David D. Oquendo has developed a personal constructed script. He calls this writing system, “Metaphrase”. This “Metaphrase” is a series that includes large-scale wall renderings (indoor and outdoor) and mixed media paintings. The artwork explores the artist’s ideas and questions of identity, language, meditation, religion and life.
The genesis of the series is personal. The artist was diagnosed with a learning disability as a child; causing difficulty in speech, comprehension, translation and writing. The non sequitur has become increasingly fascinating for the artist in regards to idiomatic phrases, music and identity and understanding in oneself through language.
Oquendo believes that language is not only about communicating with one another, it is also a tool to develop meaning in the world around us. Language allows one to categorize, and to normalize; it allows us to look at multifaceted ideas and simplify it. Language also allows us to build a sense of self, a sense of security and comfort in our own being. It lets us believe that we are in fact someone in particular, someone unique. It distinguishes the artist, Oquendo, from you, the audience. Language stabilizes the disarray of existence. But only to a point because of all the possibilities it offers it is also limiting. It doesn’t allow one to articulate the entirety of existence and therefore fails to alleviate the artist’s fear of it. This failure of language, especially language beautifully displayed, to mitigate the artist’s fearful fascination of existence is a major theme in “Metaphrase”. The work is created by the artist, for the artist, yet admired and unraveled by the audience.
Each letter is a system that has been influenced by Textualis Quadrata with hints of Arabic and Hebrew calligraphy. Completion finds the balance between obfuscate text and the beauty of calligraphy. With this series, David D. Oquendo challenges the notion of what language must be, how language must be used and how language must look like.