STORIES FROM PAFA

Two Graduate Alums at Commonweal Gallery, Yikui (Coy) Gu and Eustace Mamba

This summer Commonweal gallery is featuring works by two recent PAFA MFA graduates, Yikui (Coy) Gu and Eustace Mamba. Gu and Mamba engage their first-generation experiences to interrogate the development and deployment of identity in America in the exhibition Living in between worlds, open Wednesday, June 29th through Saturday, July 30th. Visit the opening celebration on Friday, July 1st from 6 - 9 PM.

Yikui (Coy) Gu (b. 1983) will be presenting works from his mixed-media autobiographical series Classic Yellow, which uses his wife and himself as subject matter. In probing the specificity, both lived and imagined, of their immigrant Chinese-German marriage, universal truths and absurdities are revealed. The spaces between order and chaos, sincerity and irony, or design and chance are explored using visual elements from the internet, pop culture, and art history. The combination of painting, drawing, and collage, alongside materials ranging from chopsticks to bodily fluids juxtapose against each other, echoing their relationship and serving as a metaphor for it. Through this combination of political, cultural, and domestic imagery, Gu hopes to affirm and subvert the contemporary human condition through a Yellow lens.

Gu has exhibited in solo shows at The Delaware Contemporary, the Chinese American Arts Council (NYC), Capital One Headquarters (Wilmington, DE), the College of Southern Maryland, and Fontbonne University (MO). He has participated in group shows at G.A.S.-Station (Berlin), Central Booking (NYC), The Siena Art Institute, the Center for Contemporary Art (NJ), and the Boston Center for the Arts. His work has been written about in Hyperallergic, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Art Speil, Yale Daily News, and the New Haven Independent. In June of 2021, Gu’s exhibition at The Delaware Contemporary was reviewed by noted poet and scholar, John Yau, for Hyperallergic. He is currently included in a group exhibit at Washington University in St. Louis alongside Kara Walker, Kehinde Wiley, Sonya Clark, and other nationally recognized artists.

Eustace Mamba (b. 1992) strives in his work to create a world less intimidating and more accessible to - and reflective of - people who historically have been intimidated by, and not positively represented, in the fine arts. Imbued with autobiographical associations to his experience as a first born and first generation child of Antiguan immigrants, his works are a physical extension of his need to record complex contemporary issues through simple expressions. Mamba aims to engage images, stories, and information pertinent to building stronger communities through his works as an active approach to resisting colonial ideals and expectations of fine art. Mamba is a recent graduate (MFA) of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. His work has been featured in numerous shows at the latter, as well as at Works on Paper Gallery (Philadelphia). He was given the opportunity to create an installation at the Philadelphia International Airport from 2021-22. During his time at the Pennsylvania Academy he was the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the 2020 Faculty Award, the 2020 Philadelphia Mayor’s Award as well as The Judith McGregor Caldwell Purchase Prize for the Museum at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Mamba’s works reside in prominent local, national and international collections.


Commonweal is open Tuesday - Saturday, from 11 AM - 6 PM

1607 Latimer Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Living in between worlds

June 29th—July 30th

Opening celebration, Friday, July 1st, 6-9 PM


About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Thomas Eakins, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.