Derrick Velasquez


Derrick Velasquez
Nov 21, 2019 – Jan 18, 2020

Robischon Gallery is pleased to present three, concurrent solo exhibitions by New York artists Richard Serra, Don Voisine and Stephen Westfall with a two-person exhibition by Colorado artists Kate Petley and Derrick Velasquez. The five artists on view challenge and investigate varying aspects of abstraction, including Minimalism and Geometric Abstraction, in a variety of media.  From print work to painting as well as sculpture, the artists’ explorations into visual weight, color and surface are expansive in both composition and form.  The dynamic yet nuanced large-scale textural prints of preeminent sculptor Richard Serra, leading into the bold and color-saturated paintings of highly regarded artists Don Voisine and Stephen Westfall, alongside the process and material-based work of recognized artists Kate Petley and Derrick Velasquez, influence and add to the vocabulary of abstraction with their distinctive pursuits.  Each of the exhibited artists invite the viewer to engage in a dialogue between light and dark, gravity and weightlessness and to experience a sense of the architectural. 

Derrick Velasquez

“I have always dealt with physical and metaphorical ideas of structure - how one object or entity is or is not held together by another. I like to take commonplace materials and use forces that are natural, like gravity - or forced pressures like bending something until it breaks. For me this exploration of specific materials comes from a position of our physical and psychological relationships.”

Having participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions at Robischon Gallery, Colorado artist Derrick Velasquez returns with his signature vinyl wall sculptures. Utilizing material commonly used for book-binding and marine upholstery, Velasquez experiments with gravity and color by composing multiple-layered stacks of vinyl strips over geometric-shaped wood armatures for his uncommon wall sculptures. The artist’s identifiable series, which evolved many years ago from a discovery that occurred in his studio while bookbinding, launched an on-going series – one that is conceptually furthered by Velasquez’s singular approach and vision. The artist creates sculptures that cleverly reference the literary; by positioning the sides of the colored layers as “pages” and with the additional thin strips of vinyl that comprise the top edge of the sculpture as a kind of book’s “spine.” Noteworthy is the artist’s intention, that through his use of vinyl, he elevates what would be considered a commonplace material to an artful status. Velasquez’s visual and conceptual pursuits overlap in myriad ways – from his explorations of vibratory color relationships, to discovering form via gravity to his progressive sense of materiality – the artist’s methods blend in unique new ways.

The vinyl sculptures operate either as a springboard or in tandem to many other series, as in “Preservation of Monument,” an extensive series in which Velasquez’s unique perceptions of architectural space and material have given rise to a body of work that extends his discourse of how architecture and design covertly, reinforce the social status quo. Such series reveal the artist’s unexpected and contemporary use of the traditional, a decorative molded foam, which he then inventively melds with neatly planed wood forms into sculpture with exaggerated crenellations or secreted interior linings.  Traversing new territory allows Velasquez to provocatively consider how commonplace domestic materials and architectural elements shape the cultural discourse. The artist’s unconventional use of the classic egg-and-dart or Greek key patterns, with their weighted meanings and cornice-like application, was essential to the impressive stacked gold molding of the 2017 sculpture XXXXXXXXXXXL installed in the atrium at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver. Velasquez states that, “by using this combination as a material to make line and shape and color, I deny the typical uses of ornamentation and make it into an object that holds the history of elaborately ornamented places like Versailles with a Modernist and formal reconstruction.” With his perceptive work in both the architectural re-imaginings and the symmetrical and asymmetrical vinyl wall sculptures, Derrick Velasquez liberates culturally recognized objects and materials from their typically prescribed contexts, as he seeks to afford them new depths of significance.

A recipient of a prestigious Joan Mitchell Award in Painting and Sculpture, Colorado artist Derrick Velasquez has a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, CA and an M.F.A. from The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. His awards and residencies include: William and Dorothy Yeck Young Sculptors Competition Purchase Award, Black Cube Nomadic Art Museum Artist Fellow, Colorado Creative Industries Career Advancement Award, Vertigo Art Space Artist Residency (as Stapleford Collective), Denver, CO, Redline Artist Residency - Denver, CO from 2010-2012, Juror's Pick: Tricia Robson - Icebreaker 2.0, Ice Cube Gallery, Denver, CO 2011, Best In Show - Boxcar Gallery Annual Juried Show and the Fergus Family Material Award - The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. Velasquez has exhibited in solo and group museum exhibitions as well as numerous university galleries, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO; the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, CO; New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM; the Frame Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University, PA; Hiestand Gallery, Miami University, Oxford, OH; Vicki Myhren Gallery, University of Denver, Denver, CO; Curfman Gallery, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO; Hopkins Hall Gallery, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; along with Black Cube Nomadic Art Museum based out of Denver, CO. His work is represented in select private and corporate collections such as Fidelity Investments; Miami University, Oxford, OH; Dikeou Collection, Denver, CO; and the Colorado Convention Center, among others. Velasquez is a founding member of Tank Studios and Tilt West, both based out of Denver, CO. Velasquez’s 2017 solo exhibition, “Obstructed View,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and his organization of the museum’s open shelf library space called “The Stacks” was very well received.