No 78 (2014)
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.
No. 78 is formally distinct from the other works on view, as its surface is marked by thick layers of paper collaged on top of each other with which the artist creates the image. But even though the rough surfaces of collage make it difficult to render minute details such as facial expressions or fabric patterns that comprise a key component of Fordjour’s paintings, the overall atmosphere produced by No. 78 is not so different from the adjacent works. The emotionless expression of the central figure stands in sharp contrast with the bright, pink background reminiscent of confetti paper, reinforcing the notion of individual vulnerability as explored in his broader practice.