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"Trenton Doyle Hancock: Moments in Mound History"
2003-12-13 until 2004-04-04
Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland, OH, USA

Through an idiosyncratic narrative of his own design, Trenton Doyle Hancock tackles sticky subjects and addresses the conflict surrounding life, death, and the nature of good versus evil. The ongoing semiautobiographical saga he fabricates weaves allegory, wordplay, satire, and humor into an inventive, multimedia collage. Creation myths, Bible stories, and humanity’s baser instincts infuse his alternately comic and tragic tale of struggle and survival.

Trenton Doyle Hancocks art reveals an obsession with feelings and imparts associations that are personal and universal, factual and fictive. Through an idiosyncratic narrative of his own design, Hancock tackles sticky subjects and addresses the conflict surrounding life, death, and the nature of good versus evil. The ongoing semiautobiographical saga he fabricates weaves allegory, word play, satire, and humor into an inventive, multimedia collage. Creation myths, Bible stories, and the baser instincts of humanity infuse his alternately comic and tragic tale of struggle and survival.

Hancock tempers his examination of weighty issues with an intuitive and inspired working process to embed surprising elements and images within his densely populated stories. Paintings, drawings, assemblages, and objects composed of acrylic, felt, fake fur, plastic, and “disposable” matter are knit together in an unfolding dream (or nightmare) in which sequel begets prequel and narrative is blended and reassembled at will. Chronicling his ongoing, semi-autobiographical battle with elemental and cultural forces through surrogate artistic and individual identities, Hancock delivers a biting and amusing critique of racial, sexual, bodily, and social issues.

Hancock, who was born in 1974, exploits an occasionally crude visual style to activate his allegorical tales. Profoundly inspired by comics and popular culture, Hancocks seemingly effortless, obsessive technique is sometimes compared to that of “outsider” artiststhose not trained in an academic program. In fact, his complex rendering of collaged images and articulate draftsmanship reveal the hand and eye of a sophisticated maker of images. Indeed, the late work of Canadian-American artist Philip Guston (1913-1980)one of Hancocks heroesand Belgian artist James Ensor (1860-1949), who both used caricature to reveal an at once menacing and truthful subtext in their work, operated in modes counter to the prevailing trends of their day.

Likewise, William Blake (1757-1827), the visionary Romantic artist and writer, offers a comparable model for Hancocks insistence on overlapping feats of linguistic derring-do and streams of tantalizing symbols in his authentic fictions. Both Blake and Hancock considerin vaguely biblical termsthe image and word as one. Simultaneously, Hancock appears to channel everyone from Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock, with his all-over ethos, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns for their concern with the signs of the everyday, and Robert Crumb, Henry Darger, and artists of Chicagos “Hairy Who” for their fearless incorporation of funky imagery and nonsensical visual metaphor.

Central to the iconography and mythology of Hancocks tale is a cast of characters including Mound #1also known as The LegendLoid, Painter, Torpedo Boy, the Vegans, and Homerbuctus, figures embroiled in an epic struggle of carnal and spiritual forces. This exhibition explores various moments in the life of the Mound, a hybrid creature comprising characteristics of animal and vegetable life forms. This enigmatic, anthropomorphizing life force focuses the endless story on which Hancock has embarked.

Trenton Doyle Hancock,
Painter and Loid Struggle from Soul Control, 2001
Mixed media on canvas
103 x 119 inches
Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery, New York


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