For almost two decades, Trenton Doyle Hancock has been constructing his own fantastical narrative that continues to develop and inform his prolific artistic output. Part fictional, part autobiographical, Hancock’s work pulls from his own personal experience, art historical canon, comics and superheroes, pulp fiction, and myriad pop culture references, resulting in a complex amalgamation of characters and plots possessing universal concepts of light and dark, good and evil, and all the grey in between.
For the 2016 Art Dealers Association of America Fair, James Cohan is pleased to present a selection of new work by Hancock that delves further into his constructed narrative. This deliberate focus on Hancock comes at a tremendous moment for the artist, as it coincides with the conclusion of a career survey of his work at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fl, as well as a major drawing retrospective, Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin & Bones, 20 Years of Drawing, which toured to several institution, including the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Studio Museum in New York City.
Of this new body of work, Hancock explains,
In 2014, after about 6 years of making what I call "psychological self portraits", I began experimenting with animation. The animations I made were very short and simple, and felt like an interesting way to push the self portraits I had been focused on into an increasingly larger narrative. At the same time, I began work on a short live action film called What the Bringback Brought, with the short animations feeding the narrative and building scenes. The narrative of this film involves me, the artist being kidnapped by furry, striped, mutated brutes called Bringbacks, who force me to be a performer in a psychological theater. After several rituals are played out on-screen, I go through molting phases, one of which is called the "Bringling" phase. I am ultimately transformed into a furry Bringback and as a Bringback, my role is to produce toys related to the Moundverse and "Mind of the Mound" (name given to the Trenton Doyle Hancockian meta-reality). The Greenfield Foundation in Florida funded the production of the film, which set the stage for the works collected here at the ADAA.
Several works closely mirror key scenes from the film such as the small grisaille paintings such as The Letting, Concerto, and Head Tread, and have a distinct filmic quality. The trio of paintings, 8 Back Icon Series: Torpedoboy, 8 Back Icon Series: Bringback, and 8 Back Icon Series: Trenton Doyle Hancock serve as models of toys that I must produce, an outcome of my transformation to a Bringback, and nod to my love of toys and packaging of toys made in the 1970s and 1980s. These and other paintings in this installation are united by a shared grid pattern that haunted the film that has now become entwined with the paintings. The pattern itself comes from the linoleum quatrefoil floor tiling in my grandmother's house and the many memories I have of laying on that floor trying to impress my grandmother with the drawings I was making. It seems the pattern has grown to become an integral structuring element in my recent works that simultaneously performs as a barrier, a grid, a compartmental device, and a familial foundation.
Since I see my process as an additive one and I do not "retire" any imagery, grids have become an important frame to shape an ever increasing cast of images and icons that inhabit my world. In the past, grids have taken many forms such as a system of veins, tree branches, arms, hands, legs, floral arrangements, and even text. They help shape and organize my subjects into bite sized chunks that accumulate and swirl into increasingly larger narrative fields. Currently, the quatrefoil pattern is pervasive in my paintings, and it serves as a multivalent formal tool that stitches together the growing collection of images and icons that circulate throughout my paintings.
Trenton Doyle Hancock, 2016
Trenton Doyle Hancock was born in 1974 in Oklahoma City, OK. Raised in Paris, Texas, Hancock earned his BFA from Texas A&M University, Commerce and his MFA from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, Philadelphia. Hancock was featured in the 2000 and 2002 Whitney Biennial exhibitions, at the time, becoming one of the youngest artists in history to participate in this prestigious survey. In 2014, his exhibition, Skin & Bones: 20 Years of Drawing, at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston traveled to Akron Art Museum, OH; Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; and Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, VA. His work has been the subject of one-person exhibitions at The Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, The University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa; The Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah and Atlanta; The Weatherspoon Museum, Greensboro; The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; The Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; Institute for Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Olympic Sculpture Park at the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle; The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Hancock’s work is in the permanent collections of several prestigious museums, including the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Brooklyn Museum of Art , New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Akron Art Museum; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; and il Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea, Trento, Italy. Trenton Doyle Hancock lives and works in Houston.