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Derek Fordjour (b. 1974)
Road Trip
signed and dated 'Fordjour '15' (on the reverse)
oil pastel, acrylic, watercolor and newspaper collage on board
48 x 60 in. (121.9 x 152.4 cm.)
Executed in 2015.
Private collection, Boston, acquired directly from the artist
Acquired from the above by the present owner

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Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan

Lot Essay

A southerner born in Memphis who currently lives and works in Harlem, Derek Fordjour explores systems of exploitation and commodification, such as incarcarated black men and corporate athletes, as well as social patterns, national identities, meritocracy, stereotypes and the fallacies baked into the Americana zeitgeist. An investigation of power and the intersection of race and group identity, Road Trip, painted in 2015, depicts a group of uniformed men, both black and white, enigmatically posing, perhaps for a camera or for a judge, within an ethereal and ambiguous space. Known for using cultural material such as parades, sporting events, and other competitions as ideological platforms, Fordjour creates figures that are recepticals for ideas rather than specific people. Fordjour’s collage aesthetic of bringing disparate concepts together was born from an earlier necessity to use humble materials such as newspaper, tiles, charcoal, and wood panel. As his processs deepens, he considers his formal media a reminder of the "hand-me-down" culture of the Southern churches and schools he grew up in as a minority. In 2018, Fordjour was commissioned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to create a glass and ceramic mosaic mural, titled Parade, at the 145th Street and Lenox Avenue subway station in Harlem. In the same year, the Whitney Museum also commissioned a public installation, Half Mast, across from the museum, to encourage a dialogue on gun violence and mass shootings. In January 2020, he will have his first major solo exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis.

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