Black artists working today do not shy from explicit portrayals of murderous racism. One thinks of Dawn Williams Boyd’s seething red devil within a cloud of Klansmen, or Shaun Leonardo’s charcoal drawings based on media images of deadly profiling—Rodney King, Trayvon Martin. The New York-based Derek Fordjour is more subtle in his politics. In his first solo show at Petzel, large, colorful, and dynamic works such as Pall Bearers, which sees six figures regally carrying an adorned tomb, and Chorus of Maternal Grief, portraying a group of women singers, evoke a mix of emotions. It’s only after experiencing the pride of the pallbearers and the camaraderie of the singers that we get to the questions within each work: Who is likely to be inside that coffin? And why are these Black mothers grieving? We all know the answers. —J.V.
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