Through April 9, 2023

Scheller and Rodale Galleries

Dark matter is a good metaphor for Blackness in society. It’s every­where and it’s constantly misunderstood—even in abstraction. With my paintings, and definitely with my studio practice, I look to the studio as a safe space, a place where I can go to meditate, to reconcile, decompress, and rationalize, maybe, the trials and tribulations of my life through abstraction, through color. I use abstraction as a metaphor to talk about myself, my identity, and the social politics that are surrounding my body.
Alteronce Gumby

Using shards of tempered glass, gemstones, resins, and other unconventional materials, Alteronce Gumby creates luminous paintings that operate at the intersection of abstraction and representation. In his work, Gumby employs color as both material and metaphor, deftly harnessing its subtle effects and rich tonal relationships while also exploring color’s capacity to create and convey meaning. By focusing on the power of color to signify, Gumby’s practice provokes questions about painting’s relation to larger cultural forces, and how it functions within the charged social frameworks in which it operates, including and perhaps especially within art and art history.

Alteronce Gumby, “Helios,” 2021, gemstones, painted glass, and acrylic on panel, 72 x 72 inches. Collection of Marcia and Barry Maiten

The title of the exhibition, Dark Matter, gestures to Gumby’s longstanding fascination with the cosmos—a fascination manifest in the shimmering, almost kinetic surfaces of his compositions, which call to mind swirling galaxies, interstellar clouds, and distant nebulae. In scientific terms, “dark matter” refers to a component of the universe that, despite accounting for as much as eighty-five percent of the mass of the universe, has not yet been identified or directly observed by scientific instruments. That it is so omnipresent in the universe and yet remains largely unknown makes dark matter an apt metaphor for Gumby’s practice, in which themes of invisibility and absence are a dominant motif.

Dark Matter, which marks the first solo museum exhibition of Gumby’s work, explores the formal, material, and conceptual complexity of his paintings. Highlighting the artist’s engagement through his work with lived experience and the power structures that shape cultural production, this exhibition focuses on how Gumby’s faceted, mosaic-like compositions gesture toward more fundamental questions about identity, agency, and marginalization.

Image at top: Portrait of Alteronce Gumby by A’ja Dotson. Courtesy of Alteronce Gumby



Alteronce Gumby: Dark Matter is generously supported by George Frederick Mead Merck, the Nicola Vassell Gallery, the Bernard and Audrey Berman Foundation, and the Leon C. and June W. Holt Endowment.

In-kind support is provided by the Sterling Hill Mining Museum.