Trenton Doyle Hancock’s intricate candy-colored prints, drawings, collaged felt paintings and site-specific installations work together to tell the story of the Mounds—a group of bizarre mythical creatures that are the tragic protagonists of the artist’s unfolding narrative between good and evil. Storytelling is a central part of Hancock’s artistic practice. Each new work serves as a contribution to the saga of the Mounds, portraying the birth, life, death, afterlife, and even dream states of these half-animal, half-plant creatures, and their aggressors, the Vegans.
Influenced equally by the history of painting as by the pulp imagery of pop-culture, Hancock transforms traditionally formal decisions—such as the use of color, language and pattern—into opportunities to build narrative, develop sub-plots and convey symbolic meaning. Hancock’s works are suffused with personal mythology presented at an operatic scale, often reinterpreting Biblical stories that the artist learned as a child from his family and local church community. His exuberant and subversive narratives employ a variety of cultural tropes, ranging in tone from comic-strip superhero battles to medieval morality plays and influenced in style by Hieronymus Bosch, Max Ernst, Henry Darger, Philip Guston and R. Crumb. Text embedded within the paintings and drawings both drives the narrative and acts as a central visual component. His resulting installations often sprawl beyond canvas edges and onto surrounding gallery walls.
As a whole, Hancock’s highly developed cast of characters acts out a complex mythological battle, creating an elaborate cosmology that embodies his unique aesthetic ideals, musings on color, language, emotions and ultimately, good versus evil. Hancock’s mythology has been translated to the stage in an original ballet, Cult of Color: Call to Color, commissioned by Ballet Austin and created by Trenton Doyle Hancock, choreographer Stephen Mills and composer Graham Reynolds. The ballet performances debuted in Austin in April 2008. He created an original mural for the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, TX, as well as a site-specific installation entitled, A Better Promise, at the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, WA.