Shulamit Nazarian is pleased to present An Ingénue’s Hues and How to Use Cutty Black Shoes, Houston-based artist Trenton Doyle Hancock’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles. The new drawings, paintings, and sculptures in this show expand upon the artist’s saga of The Moundverse, a constructed world that has propelled his artistic practice for the past twenty-five years.
In addition to the narrative tradition of his religious upbringing, Hancock immersed himself in graphic novels, comics, and Greek mythology; at the age of ten, he began creating characters as articulations of his experience as a Black youth in small-town Paris, Texas. In The Moundverse, Hancock has developed an extensive cast: altruistic Mounds, destructive Vegans, and mutated Bringbacks; TorpedoBoy is a tragically flawed hero who serves as the artist’s alter ego; Undom Endgle is a color-wielding goddess who protects young souls, representing the force of the Black women who have affected and supported Hancock over the years. These characters and others explore timeless polarities like good and evil alongside related issues of race, class, identity, politics, and social justice.
Using the fantastical to grapple with the deeply personal has long been at the core of Hancock’s artistic practice. Formally, this is seen in what the artist calls his “rough and tumble” aesthetic: Richly colored tactile surfaces are loaded with objects that range from bottle caps that the artist played with in childhood to bits and pieces of older works that have been rebirthed to create something entirely new. Drawing heavily from the temporal structure of comics, Hancock’s practice seamlessly weaves storylines spanning long periods of time, often within a single artwork. The totality of his practice can be seen as an ever-expanding graphic novel in its own right, articulated through a variety of media.
Laced with personal memoir, Hancock’s Moundverse is a metaphorical space that reflects the everyday world. Several works show TorpedoBoy in mid-stride, clad in football gear, wearing his “cutty black shoes” as he runs from evil-natured Vegans that at times take the aggregated form of a goofy-footed, cloaked member of the Ku Klux Klan (the Paris, Texas, of Hancock’s youth had an active Klan). The malignant force that reaches for this distraught—albeit defiant—central character points to longstanding concerns of systematic racism and oppression.
The exhibition also includes Hancock’s most recurring character, The Mound—a half-plant, half-animal creature that absorbs and processes negative human emotions to bring positive energy to the world. Presented within the exhibition will be two large-scale paintings of Mounds, one standing nearly eight feet tall. In addition, Hancock will present new ink-on-paper works that introduce the first chapter of the artist’s most ambitious drawings to date: Trenton Doyle Hancock Presents The Moundverse. Designed as a traditional graphic novel, this series offers a sequential understanding of the characters and stories that have dominated Hancock’s practice for the past two and a half decades.
An Ingénue’s Hues and How to Use Cutty Black Shoes continues the artist’s exploration of primal forces as they play out in The Moundverse, reflecting our current moment and inviting viewers to consider parallel themes and stories in the world around us today.
Trenton Doyle Hancock (b. 1974, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) grew up in Paris, Texas. 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. In 2014, his exhibition Skin & Bones: 20 Years of Drawing was presented at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, and traveled to Akron Art Museum; the Studio Museum in Harlem; and Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. A solo exhibition of his work, Mind of the Mound: Critical Mass, will open at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, in 2019. His work has been the subject of one-person exhibitions at The Ringling Museum of Art; The University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum; The Savannah College of Art and Design; The Weatherspoon Museum; The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; The Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; Institute for Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania; Olympic Sculpture Park at the Seattle Art Museum; Fruitmarket Gallery; and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Hancock’s world has also been translated into performance in the original ballet Cult of Color: Call to Color, commissioned by Ballet Austin; and into site-specific murals for the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Dallas and at the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park.
The artist’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Brooklyn Museum; The Studio Museum in Harlem; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Baltimore Museum of Art; Columbus Museum of Art; The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu; The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum; Dallas Museum of Art; High Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art; Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Andy Warhol Museum; and Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University.