House party: Q&A with Derrick Quevedo

JOE BUN KEO: Color is an unspoken language, and your work reflects that you�re fluent in it. Can you compare the power of color and shape to that of written and spoken language or overt imagery?

DERRICK QUEVEDO: There are musical intervals that affect us for one reason or another. They are not tied to any particular idea, but they are phenomena in the sense of hearing that stirs us. When notes on a composition are free of association, free in behavior and interaction, they’re offered multiple ways to affect us. Words are associative–they have meanings and are stand-ins for particular ideas and distribute particular kinds of information in a particular way. Associations are very powerful, sometimes unbreakable, and often bring an unwarranted element into things. Music is non-mimetic, doesn’t need lyrics, doesn’t need the notes to symbolize or be associative to make an intended impact. Color is similarly capable. Sometimes you have to lose your sense of things to use your sense of things.

Derrick Quevedo, 5 x 7 x 7, 2012, acrylic on hardboard, 5 x 7 inches.

JBK: The size of your work is intimate, like a daydream. The proportion emits some sort of comfort and ease, as if you can hold it and take it with you, an implied mobility. What is the behind your decision to work in variety of smaller dimensions?

DQ: You know whether you’d rather be at a nightclub or a house party. House parties are more about intimacy; a room to dance closely, a room to talk closely, a room to have sex, and you’re with all your favorite people. I’m very much a “house party” painter–I prefer intimate or private relationships. My studio/work spaces have always been small and temporary, my living spaces have typically been small and temporary, and while there’s practicality as an artist, there’s also practicality as a viewer since the work is meant for intimate, domestic, continued engagements. This type of intimacy is familiar in an age where things are viewed on smartphones and iPads. We can get close with a painting.

Derrick Quevedo, 6.8.23, 2012, watercolor and gouache on paper, 6 x 8 inches.

JBK: To what extent does �art therapy� play in your color associations? Do certain colors and color combinations initiate specific reactions emotionally and psychologically?

DQ: I’m not using yellow because it makes you hungry or anything like that. When I’m talking color I’m talking color and surface interactions; the distribution or direction or vibrancy of a color in relation to another color in relation to another color… its role or effect is never static. I’m interested in a format where a color or even a set of colors (like “Christmas” colors) aren’t limited by their associations. Roles aren’t assigned to them; they work together to find their roles in their community.

Derrick Quevedo, 8.10.14, 2012, acrylic on hardboard, 8 x 10 inches.

JBK: When you do integrate an image into your color compositions, what justifies the integration? I find that your work aims to focus more on how powerful color is and how it can be the dominant means of communication without using text or clear images.

DQ: It’s not intentional. Color comes first, but things just exist sometimes. Forms or direction or combinations of colors on the painted surface might just happen to harmonize with things I find out in the world and it makes sense to let them be playmates if they behave together so well. I wouldn’t close myself off completely from allowing paint to mimic things but I’ll compromise with paint if color failed to be the recognizable voice. If you happen to see an image and then walk away challenging yourself to notice colors coming from everywhere around you, the colors of the natural world, the manmade world, the imagined world, and sensing the effect that has on you, then I’ve still done my job once you’re engaging in color.

Derrick Quevedo, 8.10.33, 2012, watercolor and gouache on paper, 8 x 10 inches.

JBK: Tell us about what�s next for Derrick Quevedo? Are there any upcoming exhibitions or other creative opportunities?

DQ: I’ll be part of “Painting the Periphery,” a group exhibition curated by Aubrey Levinthal and including a bunch of great painters, at Millersville University starting December 3rd and running until February 7th. Also, lately in the studio I’ve been excited about painting surfaces other than paper and panel rectangles. Now you WILL get to see me focus on “painting things.” 😛

Image at top: Derrick Quevedo, 5 x 7 x 6, 2012, acrylic on hardboard, 5 x 7 inches. Images courtesy of the artist.


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  1. A wonderful use of colour.x

  2. Amazing color. I'd love to see those " read '.

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