DEREK FORDJOUR (B. 1974)
DEREK FORDJOUR (B. 1974)
DEREK FORDJOUR (B. 1974)
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DEREK FORDJOUR (B. 1974)
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Please note that at our discretion some lots may b… Read more
DEREK FORDJOUR (B. 1974)

All or Nothing

Details
DEREK FORDJOUR (B. 1974)
All or Nothing
signed and dated ‘FORDJOUR 17’ (on the reverse)
acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel, glitter, coal and cardboard on carved newspaper mounted on canvas
83 5/8 x 61 3/4in. (212.5 x 157cm.)
Executed in 2017
Provenance
Luce Gallery, Turin.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Special notice
Please note that at our discretion some lots may be moved immediately after the sale to our storage facility at Momart Logistics Warehouse: Units 9-12, E10 Enterprise Park, Argall Way, Leyton, London E10 7DQ. At King Street lots are available for collection on any weekday, 9.00 am to 4.30 pm. Collection from Momart is strictly by appointment only. We advise that you inform the sale administrator at least 48 hours in advance of collection so that they can arrange with Momart. However, if you need to contact Momart directly: Tel: +44 (0)20 7426 3000 email: pcandauctionteam@momart.co.uk. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

Brought to you by

Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Director, Senior Specialist

Lot Essay

Towering more than two metres in height, All or Nothing (2017) is a powerful example of Derek Fordjour’s rich multimedia compositions. A sister painting to What will you do to help us win, housed in the Dallas Museum of Art, it offers a thrilling blend of history, autobiography and virtuosic material alchemy. Set against a brooding midnight blue sky, a marbled body of water wends its ways through an undulating landscape, speckled with light and colour. Fordjour lines the shore with flags, or perhaps signposts, each composed of a fragment of newspaper: the same material, meanwhile, crinkles like skin below the surface of the painting, carved into hypnotic geological formations. Along the top and bottom, emblazoned as if upon a protest banner, runs the work’s title, spliced and scrambled into fragments. Charcoal, oil pastel, glitter and coal create an intoxicating, tactile terrain, layered with traces, illusions and half-buried tales. Born to Ghanaian immigrant parents in Memphis, on the banks of the Mississippi River, Fordjour uses themes of ceremony, ritual and performance to explore race, identity and aspiration. All or Nothing is a potent, poignant expression of these concerns, every inch of its surface charged with the artist’s unique physical poetry.

Having completed his MFA at Hunter College, New York, the year before the present work, Fordjour has since risen to critical acclaim. Following his 2017 exhibition PARADE at the Sugar Hill Museum in New York, he completed the monumental public installation Half Mast as part of the 2018 Whitney Museum of American Art Billboard Project, followed two years later by a major exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum of St Louis. March 2022, meanwhile, saw him selected by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, to inaugurate their new outdoor artwork series ‘Building Art’. At the heart of his practice is an extraordinary sensitivity to materials: working in a lineage that extends from Kerry James Marshall and Jean-Michel Basquiat to Mark Bradford, he uses texture, colour and pattern to create complex, layered palimpsests. These, in turn, capture something of the way in which we process history and culture, with glimmers of yesterday’s news lurking between new, enticing strata of glitter and bright paint. Here, tantalising fragments of text drift in and out of legibility, including the name of the Financial Times, which Fordjour favours for the texture and tint of its paper. While much of his art centres on portraiture, the present work and its companion stand largely alone within his oeuvre. People, indeed, are conspicuously absent, their banners abandoned upon an empty battlefield: at the edges, the rallying cry of ‘all or nothing’ seems to stutter to a halt.

Growing up in Memphis in the wake of the Civil Rights movement, Fordjour was keenly aware of both his Ghanaian and American heritage. The rituals and rites of both countries have woven their way into his oeuvre, in each case conceived as performances of identity and culture. Sport, in particular, became an important subject for Fordjour, its rhetoric of victory and defeat serving as an allegory for racial and social themes. What appears as a river in the present work might just as easily represent a racetrack, its borders lined with markers and motivational banners. At the same time, it equally conjures a deserted route march, riddled with the ghosts of protests past. Memphis, notably, had been the scene of the infamous African American sanitation workers strike in 1968, led by Martin Luther King Jr., which resulted in the tragic killing of teenager Larry Payne at the hands of the police. It was there, just two months later, that King himself was assassinated from the second-floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Such memories quiver in the depths of All or Nothing, and—at a time when the histories of Black America demand to be retold—the pale morning light on the work’s horizon gives nothing away.

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