Derek Fordjour

“Conceptually, I never really loved the extraction of work from the artist’s life and environment and reality—that sanitizing that happens where you pluck it from its roots and present it in a cube.”

Derek Fordjour is an American interdisciplinary artist whose work explores his own intercultural identity through a variety of mediums such as sculpture, painting, collage and video.

Fordjour’s works are vibrant, highly textured, and charismatic, practically moving beyond the borders of their frame in celebration of Blackness and the Black diaspora.

Fordjour has become a favorite of prominent collectors around the world, including Drake, Beyonce, and Jay-Z.

Solo Shows
Whitney Museum, CAM St. Louis
Group Shows
ltd Gallery, Los Angeles; Sothebys S2 Gallery, New York
Permanent Collections
Studio Museum in Harlem; Perez Art Museum, Miami; Brooklyn Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Derek Fordjour is an American interdisciplinary artist whose work explores his own intercultural identity through a variety of mediums such as sculpture, painting, collage, and video. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised by Ghanaian parents, Fordjour’s contrast of heritage and nationality has been an important overtone throughout his work. He often calls this balancing of these dual contexts “slipping,” and in his work, he frequently paints with extraordinary bold colors reminiscent of his parent’s African heritage within a startlingly American scene.

Fordjour’s works are vibrant, highly textured, and charismatic, practically moving beyond the borders of their frame in celebration of Blackness and the Black diaspora. His immersive installations frequently juxtapose an almost-destabilizing environment into the often-sterile museum or gallery space, surrounding his images with audible and visible reminders of collective history. Works like “Aquatic Composition,” “Jamestown Champ,” and “Southside Row Club” all show Black athletes in uniforms of their sports, masterfully composed to show the analogous socioeconomic and political implications of each game to the Black experience in America. These paintings are vulnerable and hypnotic, almost psychedelic as the patterned figures line into a systematic formation. 

His most recent body of work, a comprehensive collection of immersive installations titled “SHELTER”, is his first major solo museum exhibition. To make it, Fordjour used exclusively mediums that are often used by migrant populations in their transient homes or in refugee camps, firmly planting a flag for the dignity of these populations and the importance of their materials.

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