New Acquisitions – David Oquendo

David Oquendo
Metaphrase Specimen
Oxblood ink on Papyrus paper
24 x 14
Collection of Rutgers University-Newark, Purchase of Paul Robeson Galleries

David D. Oquendo developed a personal constructed script. He calls this writing system “Metaphrase”. This series includes large-scale wall renderings (indoor and outdoor), mixed media paintings, written pieces on paper, and sculptures. The artwork explores the artist’s ideas and questions of identity and language.

Each letter of “Metaphrase” is a system that has been influenced by Textualis Quadrata,
Eastern-Kufic, Hebrew calligraphy and Taino Pictographs.
Completion finds the balance between obfuscate text and the beauty of calligraphy. With
this series, Oquendo challenges the notion of what language must be, how language must be used and how language must look like.
This piece is titled “Metaphrase Specimen” – the title and piece is inspired by Typography
specimens. A type specimen is “a publication, often in pamphlet form, that shows the range of a
particular typeface in use”. The piece provides the name of the calligraphy, “Metaphrase
Calligraphy”, following with various decorative symbols, then the alphabet, following with the
numerical system, lastly the artist’s full name.