For nearly two decades since his graduation from Temple University, Trenton Doyle Hancock has brought to life a cast of colorful—and often not so colorful—characters through his work. At the center of Hancock’s storytelling is an imaginative and epic narrative about fictional creatures called the Mounds, who populate a wildly fantastic, inventive landscape. The artist’s use of vivid imagery and mythology has earned him national and international recognition and prompted a fascination with the foundation of his practice. What emerges upon further examination of those foundations is a wide-range of influences including comics, graphic novels, cartoons, music, and film. While Hancock’s paintings have become widely known, his drawings–both discrete and monumental–have not been fully explored before now. Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Drawing is the first in-depth examination of Hancock’s extensive body of drawings, collages, and works on paper.
The exhibition features more than two hundred works of art as well as a collection of the artist’s notebooks, sketchbooks, and studies, many showing the preparation for several public commissions. Comprehensive in scope, this survey includes works from 1984 to 2014, chronicling the foundation of the artist’s prolific career. The exhibition provides a glimpse into the evolution of Hancock’s idiosyncratic vision beginning in his childhood. Ephemera such as early childhood drawings and the artist’s comic strip that ran in a college newspaper are featured to allow viewers to see the genesis of the artist’s mythology as well as the evolution of his practice.
Skin and Bones includes a range of the artist’s presentation of drawings from graphite on paper to paper affixed to canvas, from the use of collage to the use of wall as an expansive plane for monumental works. Inherent in the presentation of these drawings is the exploration of the artist’s conceptual framework and the narratives that manifest throughout his bodies of work. The exhibition presents a more focused concentration on his use of line and mark making as well as his approach to the tradition of drawing and his ability to implode that tradition through mechanical dexterity and conceptual weight.
The exhibition is organized into five sections:
Epidemic includes ephemera such as the artist’s early sketches, cartoons that he created for his college newspaper first at Paris Junior College and then later at Eastern Texas State University (now Texas A&M at Commerce), and features the debut of a new series of thirty drawings entitled Step and Screw.
The Studio Floor is a series of ten drawings that Hancock credits as the catalyst to his subsequent practice of bringing the graphic narrative of comic books and cartoons into his contemporary art practice.
Moundish includes drawings associated with the artist’s iconic mythology of the Mound: its birth, life, and death; the cosmology of characters that it encounters; and the struggles between good and evil.
From the Mirror examines self-portraiture within his work from the past two decades.
The final section, The Liminal Room, showcases stand-alone works that explore the artist’s experimentation with drawing as a medium and practice.
Among the works featured are monumental, site-specific wall drawings, wallpaper created by the artist and produced by the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, as well as the debut of a digital animation by the artist. The exhibition is organized by Valerie Cassel Oliver, CAMH Senior Curator. The exhibition will be on view at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston through August 3, 2014 before travelling to the Akron Art Museum in Ohio where it will be on view September 6, 2014, to January 4, 2015.
Trenton Doyle Hancock was born in 1974 in Oklahoma City, OK, and lives and works in Houston, TX. Raised in Paris, TX, 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, becoming one of the youngest artists in history to participate in this prestigious survey. He had his first solo exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in 2001. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX; The Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; Institute for Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; The University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa; The Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah and Atlanta; The Weatherspoon Museum, Greensboro, NC; Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, NE; Canzani Center Gallery, Columbus College of Art and Design, OH; Olympic Sculpture Park at the Seattle Art Museum, WA; The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Hancock’s mythology has been translated to the stage in an original ballet, Cult of Color: Call to Color, commissioned by Ballet Austin and Arthouse (now The Contemporary Austin). The ballet set design and costumes were created by Hancock with choreography by Stephen Mills and an original composition by Graham Reynolds. The ballet performances debuted in Austin in April 2008.
Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Drawing will be accompanied by a significant monograph of the artist’s drawings and works on paper. The publication will include an introduction and essay by the organizing curator, Valerie Cassel Oliver, as well as contributions by Brooke Davis Anderson and transcribed conversations between Hancock and artists Gary Panter and Stanley Whitney. The monograph will also feature color images of the works presented in the exhibition, a bibliography of general reading, and a biography on the artist. The overall scope and comprehensive material featured in the accompanying catalogue promises to serve as a scholarly reader and a critical and lasting document for the exhibition. The monograph will be available in early Fall 2014.
This catalogue is made possible by a grant from The Brown Foundation, Inc.