written by Nadja Saye
Long before Kanye West used it for the album cover of Donda, the black square has been symbolic throughout art history—whether it was Ad Reinhardt’s series of black abstract paintings in the 1960s, or even in 1915, when Kasimir Malevich created the Black Square.
Adding new perspective to this conversation is Alteronce Gumby, a Bronx-based artist who’s exhibiting a never-before-seen series of artworks with Berlin’s Bode Projects at Mexico City art fair Zona Maco (Feb. 9–13) that reflect on history’s relationship to the color black, and its meaning today through a Black artist’s gaze. “I was thinking about the history of monochromatic painting and black paintings,” Gumby tells Surface. “I was noticing the conversation from artists, from Malevich in the 1920s to non-objective art in the 1960s and ‘70s. It was all impersonal—they all considered the color black to almost be like a void, something without meaning. Ad Reinhardt described it as a vacuum.”