Davenport’s Conclusion (2015)
Derek Fordjour engages with the layers of political, social, and cultural experiences of African Americans within the present moment through his meticulously textured paintings of individuals in various public settings. In many of his paintings, the artist investigates the vulnerability of the human body, by portraying figures such as athletes or performers who are always under the scrutiny of the public gaze.
Divided into three distinct panels, Davenport’s Conclusion portrays the musculature of the athlete in loose, quick brush strokes, with many of his features left undefined. The graphic elements of the finish line as well as the stripes of his shirt are overlapped on top of each other without a clear spatial logic, intensifying the tension between figure and ground that is already highlighted through his partially covered, emotionally distant face. Throughout, the painting produces a brooding atmosphere that stands in sharp contrast to the connotation of victory and accomplishment that is evoked by the finish line, perhaps hinting at the psychological pressure inherent to athletes striving for excellence.