Modest Percolation (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.
In Modest Percolation, the artist juxtaposes the figure of an athlete against a bright, blue background, which incorporates patterns that evoke the textile traditions of Ghana. While the athlete’s exuberant harlequin tank-top conveys a sense of dynamism, his facial expression does not exude joy or satisfaction, with more than half of his face tinted in the blue stripes that govern the compositional logic of the painting. That the athlete’s emotions remain shaded and unknown as such, in contrast to the vibrant color schemes used in the rest of the painting, speaks to the disturbing possibility that the personal and emotional experiences of athletes might be overshadowed by the fanfare of athletic achievement that surrounds them.