Countless battles have been fought between good and evil, but none so vivid as the animated icons in the work of Houston-based artist Trenton Doyle Hancock. In Hancock’s ongoing narrative, good is represented by what the artist refers to as “Mounds” — vibrant and colorful symbols, while the evil “Vegans” are confined to a black and white underground world. This power play comes to life in Hancock’s painting, collage, sculpture, and performance, but most recently through traditional paper and print making techniques that the artist experimented with last year during a month-long residency at Singapore Tyler Print Institute. A sampling of this monumental undertaking titled A Day Ahead, A Head A Day was on view over the weekend at the Pulse Contemporary Art Fair, seen for the first time in America.
Nearly 30 unique works were created for the project, oozing with pinks and pulpy surfaces, employing three-dimensionality to bend the boundaries of what printmaking can be. His first time visiting Asia, Hancock drew inspiration from his environment, including a visit to the kitsch Chinese mythological theme park, Haw Par Villa. In the series, Hancock bends the West’s usage of the swastika as symbol of domination to incorporate the East’s association meaning permanence and infinity. His frustration with Singapore’s pristine surroundings encouraged creative exercises like asking local schoolchildren to bounce on one of his pieces like a trampoline to create some “grit.” Psychic dreams, like a clash with the area’s indigenous white tiger, further served as fuel for creativity. And a radical shift came when Hancock began using self portraiture for the first time, incorporating his bones, cartoon heads, hands, and biomorphic shapes, with images of his own face to connect his fiction-based art making with the autobiographical.
In A Day Ahead, A Head A Day it’s unclear whether the mounds or the vegans won, but the irreverent, playful and arresting imagery make the battle well worth watching. Click through below to view a slideshow of featured work.
Trenton Doyle Hancock, Imported but Beautiful, 2010. Screen print, collage, stencil shaped paper pulp, 91″ x 126″ x 3″. All images © Trenton Doyle Hancock