Derek Fordjour - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, October 2, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Video

    Derek Fordjour, 'Green Horn', Lot 3

    20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 2 October 2019

  • Provenance

    Luce Gallery, Turin
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Pulsating with vivacious colour and poignantly weathered collage, Green Horn, 2017, is a sublime example from Derek Fordjour’s body of painterly work, which will be celebrated on the occasion of the artist’s first major solo museum show at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis in January 2020. Instilling figurative images within a geometrically patterned composition, Fordjour engages with myriad art historical references whilst retaining an utterly contemporary message, touching on race and the socio-political consequences of sports, games, and carnivalesque extravaganza. Standing halfway between Paul Cézanne’s Mardi gras (Pierrot et Arlequin), 1888, and Edgar Degas’ L'Étoile, 1878, the female figure in Green Horn addresses the timeless subject of the performer within the wider thematical realm of the spectacle. Blowing in her large green horn as one would in a megaphone, the unnamed protagonist seems to challenge the presence of the viewer, as well as that of the invisible audience surrounding the platform she is standing on. Green Horn thus probes both the legitimacy of the spectator’s gaze in a contemporary context, and the commodification of games for entertainment.

    Taking on an ambivalent appearance that eschews the painterly tradition of unrestrained brightness and clarity, Fordjour’s images deliberately emanate a washed out aesthetic that directly reflects his experiences of the world growing up, conjuring an imagistic structure that is at times redolent of Raymond Hains’ décollage works. ‘One of the reasons why … surfaces are really worn the way they are is because coming from Memphis, I grew up getting things that were worn a lot — freshly used. I had a big brother, my parents were immigrants … [so also] seeing our [used] clothes go to Ghana. Those cycles, the things we have worn … is a lot about what [my] surfaces are about’, the artist has explained (Derek Fordjour, quoted in Kelley D. Evans, ‘The portrait of an artist: Derek Fordjour dissects race, sports and culture’, The Undefeated, 6 October 2017, online).

    Further elucidating the mechanics of his process, the artist has stated that he starts most of his pictures by laying down a base of cardboard. ‘Then I do a second layer’, he said, ‘where I actually paint the image, and then I use registration, which is like transparencies, these clear things, to mark where it is. I have these marks that will help me position the image on the top layer, and then I kind of tear through. I will do another image. I can almost tear it and then just pull that middle layer if I wanted, or go all the way back to the bottom layer. They’re really three paintings on top of each other, and then I just kind of tear in between. I don’t even know how I thought of it, I think it just happens. You’re making things … you just keep making them’ (Derek Fordjour, quoted in Kelley D. Evans, ‘The portrait of an artist: Derek Fordjour dissects race, sports and culture’, The Undefeated, 6 October 2017, online). Layering different images atop one another to convey a fantastical painterly realm of form and colour, Fordjour explores the independent space that exists between painting and collage, dream and reality, here materialised in a spectacularly modern portrait.

Property of a Distinguished European Collector


Green Horn

signed and dated 'FORDJOUR '17' on the reverse
oil pastel, charcoal, acrylic, cardboard and newspaper mounted on canvas
152.4 x 107 cm (60 x 42 1/8 in.)
Executed in 2017.

£30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for £137,500

Contact Specialist

Olivia Thornton
Senior Director
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099


Rosanna Widén
Director, Senior Specialist
+44 20 7318 4060

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 2 October 2019