Trenton Doyle Hancock at Akron Art Museum
This fall the Akron Art Museum presents Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Drawing, showcasing more than 300 sketches, drawings, collages and paintings by the master draftsman and storyteller Trenton Doyle Hancock. Skin and Bones explores the genesis of the artist’s mythology as well as his development over two decades.
Early childhood notebooks and comics Hancock created in junior college set the stage for invented worlds that unfold into increasingly complex compositions. Central to the exhibition are works from Hancock’s epic narrative featuring “Mounds.” These colorful, animal-plant hybrid figures populate a fantastic invented landscape where they are tormented by their mortal enemies, the “Vegans.” Hancock’s elaborate story allows the artist to confront unsettling personal and social issues as part of a contemporary saga of fall and redemption. His initial studies for the Mounds and contemporaneous drawings earned Hancock national attention in 2000, as one of the youngest artists ever to participate in the prestigious Whitney Biennial exhibition.
Hancock describes taking “the human form to its essential elements” when he embarked on his extended Mound narrative, a “cosmic battle between good and evil” that now encompasses a full and varied cast of characters. His combination of detailed imagery with dense text, featuring, word plays, anagrams and puns, draws the viewer’s attention in multiple directions. Hancock describes his approach as “something I haven’t really seen before in the fine art world,” continuing that he wants “to tell explicit stories and have them be major components of the work in order to create a new hybrid conversation.”
Hancock credits his Baptist preacher stepfather with providing him with an appreciation for the Bible and the beauty of language. He acknowledges wide-ranging sources of inspiration, including animation, pulp comics, cinema, and artists Hieronymous Bosch, James Ensor, Henry Darger and Philip Guston.
In 2002, soon after he started charting complex Mound adventures, Hancock transformed his youthful invention Torpedo Boy into a more flawed and, to him, a much more interesting character than his original superhero. Boasting a substantial ego, Hancock’s figure becomes an aggressor, stealing tofu from innocent vegans and bartering with a prostitute in a series of 10 large drawings accompanied by hand-painted text by the artist.
Self-portraits dating from his graduate school years to the present show his own persona as another continuing theme for Hancock. These compositions become increasingly dark as the years progress. Alternative—sometimes grotesque—versions of the artist are shown, frequently in absurd situations. Stand-alone works revealing the variety of Hancock’s approaches to drawing, wallpaper and a new digital animation by the artist document the variety of his creative pursuits.
Trenton Doyle Hancock’s artwork draws from Abstract Expressionism and the history of art, but he also looks to comic books, superheroes, cartoons, outsider art and graphic novels for inspiration. The museum will present a number of programs that add insight to this aspect of his work, including art talks, film screenings, live paintings and even a cooking demonstration. Hear from Hancock on Friday, September 5 at 6 pm, with the opening celebration to follow. Visit AkronArtMuseum.org/calendar to learn more about events and programs at the Akron Art Museum.
Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Drawing is supported by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Anonymous, Brad and Leslie Bucher, Burning Bones Press, Sara Paschall Dodd, Fabric Workshop and Museum, Cullen Geiselman, James Cohan Gallery, Lester Marks, Judy and Scott Nyquist, Lea Weingarten, Peter and Linda Zweig and the patrons, benefactors and donors to the CAMH’s Major Exhibition Fund. The catalogue accompanying the exhibition is provided by a generous grant from the Brown Foundation, Inc., Houston. Its presentation in Akron is supported by major funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.
Akron Art Museum
One South High Street
Akron, Ohio 44308
Along the Tracks: O. Winston Link: Through November 9
Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Drawing: September 6, 2014 – January 4, 2015
John Pearson: September 20, 2014 – February 1, 2015
Chris Pekoc: Hand Made: November 15, 2014 – April 26, 2015
Image: Trenton Doyle Hancock Goobers Intrusion 2006.tif
Credit: Trenton Doyle Hancock, Goober’s Intrusion, 2006, mixed media on paper, 6 1/4 x 10 in., Collection of Jim and Paula Ohaus, New Jersey, Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery, New York
Image: Trenton Doyle Hancock Sometimes We Can’t Have the Things We Want 2010.jpg
Credit: Trenton Doyle Hancock, Sometimes We Can’t Have the Things We Want, 2010, acrylic, mixed media on paper, 16 x 13 in., Zang Collection, London
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