David D. Oquendo is a New Jersey, USA based artist. He was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico – and raised in New Jersey. In 2009, while being mentored by the late Denyse Thomasos, Oquendo completed his undergraduate degree at Rutgers University (Newark Campus), earning a BFA in Painting and a Minor in Art History. 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 2020 solo show at Equal Space located in Newark, NJ.
Oquendo was formally an Art educator through The Robeson Galleries at Rutgers University, and currently the Head of the Visual Arts Department in Visual Arts at Bard Early College in Newark, NJ. He is represented by LeonidesArts NY.
David D. Oquendo 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), mixed media paintings, as well as sculptures. The artwork explores the artist’s ideas and questions of identity and language.
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. At a very young age David has been fascinated by language due to his frequent struggle with it. 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. Of all the possibilities language can offer, 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”.
Each letter of “Metaphrase” is a system that has been influenced by Textualis Quadrata, Eastern-Kufic and Hebrew calligraphy. Oquendo has embraced his indigenous ancestry and has been incorporating Taino pictography within his system of writing. Little-by-little, David’s calligraphy and his ancestral pictography will blend.
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.