Derek Fordjour: SELF MUST DIE

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Open: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm

456 W 18th Street, NY 10011, New York Chelsea, USA
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm


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Derek Fordjour: SELF MUST DIE

New York

Derek Fordjour: SELF MUST DIE
to Sat 19 Dec 2020
Tue-Sat 10am-6pm

Featuring Fly Away, a puppet show experience, with two performances daily

What does it look like, entail and mean to attend to, care for, comfort, and defend, those already dead, those dying and those living lives consigned to the possibility of always-imminent death, life lived in the presence of death…It means work. It is work: hard emotional, physical and intellectual work that demands vigilant attendance to the needs of the dying, to ease their way, and also to the needs of the living.
—Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being

Petzel Gallery presents SELF MUST DIE, a solo exhibition event by New York-based artist Derek Fordjour. The show, Fordjour’s first with the gallery, is an offering of creative labor in response to our current moment, a deeply personal and collective state of anxiety around death and hyper-visible racial violence. It examines the nature of martyrdom, vulnerabilities inherent to living in a Black body, performance of competency, and the liminal space existing between autonomy and control.

Artworks

Freehand Blackball Tondo 50, 2020

Acrylic, charcoal, cardboard, oil pastel, and foil on newspaper mounted on canvas
48.25" diameter

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Ascension, 2020

Resin, plaster, soil, cayenne pepper, acrylic, steel and found object
85 x 22.5 inches 215.9 x 57.2 cm

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Domicile, 2020

Fabric, wire, clay, acrylic, dirt, electric wire, light bulb, battery, wood and found object
38 x 15.5 inches 96.5 x 39.4 cm

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Barrier Stall, 2020

Resin and brass
48 x 26.5 x 26.5 inches 121.9 x 67.3 x 67.3 cm

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Taylor Memorial, 2020

Resin, steel and coal
31 x 18.5 x 7 inches 78.7 x 47 x 17.8 cm

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Contrapposto (Teal), 2020

Resin, brass, walnut wood
33.25 x 19 x 18 inches 84.5 x 48.3 x 45.7 cm

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Eulogy, 2020

Acrylic, charcoal, cardboard, and oil pastel on newspaper mounted on canvas
Framed Dimensions: 74.25 x 50.25 inches 182.9 x 121.9 cm

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Chorus of Maternal Grief, 2020

Acrylic, charcoal, cardboard, and oil pastel on newspaper mounted on canvas
80 x 72 inches 203.2 x 182.9 cm

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Procession (After Ellis Wilson), 2020

Acrylic, charcoal, cardboard, oil pastel on newspaper mounted on canvas
76.5 x 115 inches 194.3 x 292.1 cm

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Pall Bearers, 2020

Acrylic, charcoal, cardboard, oil pastel and foil on newspaper mounted on canvas
Framed Dimensions: 102.25 x 74.25 inches 254 x 182.9 cm

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Nocturnal, 2020

Mixed media
38 x 25 1/4 x 13 1/2 inches 96.5 x 64.1 x 34.3 cm

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Birmingham Steel, c.2020

Mixed media
38 x 25 1/4 x 13 1/2 inches 96.5 x 64.1 x 34.3 cm

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The Futility of Achievement, 2020

Acrylic, charcoal, cardboard, oil pastel, foil and glitter on newspaper mounted on canvas
Framed Dimensions: 77.25 x 142.25 inches 196.2 x 361.3 cm

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STRWMN, 2020

Acrylic, charcoal, cardboard, oil pastel and foil on newspaper mounted on canvas
Framed Dimensions: 87.25 x 67.25 inches 221.6 x 170.8 cm

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The Detriment of Autonomy, 2020

Acrylic, charcoal, cardboard, and oil pastel on newspaper mounted on canvas
Framed Dimensions: 87.25 x 67.25 inches 218.4 x 165.1 cm

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JUGGLR, 2020

Acrylic, charcoal, cardboard, oil pastel and foil on newspaper mounted on canvas
Framed Dimensions: 92.25 x 74.25 inches 234.3 x 188.6 cm

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Showtime!, 2020

Acrylic, charcoal, cardboard, oil pastel, and foil on newspaper mounted on canvas
140 x 108 inches 355.6 x 274.3 cm

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Cadence, 2020

Acrylic, charcoal, cardboard, oil pastel, foil and glitter on newspaper mounted on canvas
Framed Dimensions: 78.75 x 117.25 inches 200 x 297.8 cm

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Six Ring Stance, 2020

Acrylic, charcoal, cardboard, and oil pastel on newspaper mounted on canvas
Framed Dimensions: 87.25 x 67.25 inches 221.6 x 170.8 cm

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In SELF MUST DIE, Fordjour interrogates the inevitability of actual death, made more urgent by the realities of a global pandemic, and points to the aspirational death of the artist’s ego brought into focus by a burgeoning career. It is both cultural manifesto and personal declaration. The show is comprised of three parts: VESTIBULE, a site-specific sculptural installation; Fly Away, a live puppetry art performance; and a suite of new paintings.

VESTIBULE offers a collection of sculptural objects imbued with biblical allegory and the spirit of James Cone’s Black Theology of Liberation. It refashions the gallery as a secular yet sacred space of memorial. Among its features, the small entry compels visitors to undergo a destabilizing bodily shift that elicits an intimate and reorienting experience. A directional light from above slowly combs the entire room, invoking both searchlight and spotlight, ideas central to the recent death of Breonna Taylor. Constructed of bituminous coal and wrought iron, Taylor Memorial hangs from above.

Fly Away, a collaboration between Fordjour and award-winning puppeteer Nick Lehane, is performed by a stellar cast, with an original score composed by John Aylward and performed live by oboist Hassan Anderson. The puppet is a Fordjour-designed, hand-sculpted figure crafted by Robert Maldonado. The protagonist’s narrative arc rises and falls along a journey of personal discovery. Larger themes that course through Fordjour’s body of work become resonant. Fly Away performances are scheduled at 2pm and 5pm daily. Tickets are free and available upon request. For additional information on scheduling, COVID-19 safety precautions and reservations, please visit flyawayshow.com.

Spanning two galleries are several new paintings, executed in Fordjour’s signature collage technique, representing the latest developments in his studio practice. The first is a suite of paintings based on Black funerary tradition. The second gallery presents a broad range of subjects including several at monumental scale.

About Derek Fordjour

Derek Fordjour was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1974 to parents of Ghanaian heritage. Fordjour earned his BA at Morehouse College, MA in Art Education at Harvard University and an MFA in Painting at Hunter College. His work has been exhibited at notable institutions nationally and internationally. He received commissions for public projects including a permanent installation for Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York City at 145th Street Subway Station and The Whitney Museum’s Billboard Project. He was awarded 2016 Sugar Hill Children’s Museum Artist-in-Residence, the 2017 Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program in New York City, and named recipient of the 2018 Deutsche Bank NYFA Fellowship Award. His work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Hyperallergic. He has also been featured in several publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair and Forbes Magazine. Fordjour was recently appointed the Alex Katz Chair of Painting at The Cooper Union and serves as a Core Critic at Yale University School of Art. His work also appears in several collections including The Studio Museum of Harlem, Brooklyn Museum, Perez Museum, Dallas Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum and LACMA.

Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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