Vanguard Spotlight: Alteronce Gumby Is Making His Solo Museum Debut

Ayanna Dozier
Oct 26, 2022 9:54PM

Portrait of Alteronce Gumby, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Nicola Vassell Gallery, NY.

Alteronce Gumby, My Sweet Chariot, 2021. © Alteronce Gumby. Courtesy of George Frederick Mead Merck and Allentown Museum of Art.

Alteronce Gumby was featured in The Artsy Vanguard 2021, and this year, the abstract painter’s career has reached new heights. He gained representation with Nicola Vassell Gallery, which mounted his debut New York solo show, “The Color of Everything,” on view through October 29th. And now, the artist is the subject of his first solo museum show, opening this Friday at Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania, where it will remain on view through April 9, 2023. “Alteronce Gumby: Dark Matter” presents select works from the artist’s studio—including his recent experiments with color—as well as works on loan from private collectors.

Swirls of pigments, gems, resin, and glass form Gumby’s miniature cosmological abstractions. He uses celestial and earthly elements as points of departure when crafting his eye-catching paintings. For example, My Sweet Chariot (2021) depicts an iridescent arrangement of colors against a densely layered black canvas, evoking the intense clouds, stars, and galaxies seen through the Hubble Space Telescope. The comparison is not accidental, as Gumby is fascinated with NASA’s discoveries of new celestial wonders.

He relayed to Axios an incident when the telescope was aimed at a field of what appeared to be nothing for more than 100 hours. “It was a section of the sky where they deemed there was no light—and they found thousands of galaxies,” Gumby said. The multi-day delay was the amount of time it took our technology to register and read the various light signals that far out into space. Gumby’s work makes a metaphor out of this to probe further into the historically superficial perceptions of Black culture that reduce our contributions, only to be affirmed decades later. The recent mainstream recognition of 20th-century Black abstraction is an example of this.

Alteronce Gumby, installation view “The Color of Everything” at Nicola Vassell Gallery, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Nicola Vassell Gallery, New York.


Both antiquated and futuristic in his inspiration, Gumby combines images from scientific explorations of space with early modern Renaissance interests in light and color. These seemingly divergent temporal points unite in Gumby’s work to analogize the narrative of Black life. In Gumby’s abstract paintings, color refers to both never-ending, world-making possibilities and its earthly limitations due to racial categorization and segregation.

Gumby’s continual ascendent over the past two years cements his status as an established contemporary artist working in abstraction. The arrival of his solo institutional debut the same year as numerous other career breakthroughs only signals that there is much, much more to read into the stars for this artist.

Ayanna Dozier
Ayanna Dozier is Artsy’s Staff Writer.