Growing up in a Christian household in Texas, artist Trenton Doyle Hancock was immersed in the myths and narratives that he found while reading The Bible. Couple these narratives with his love of comic books, toys and the Masters of the Universe series and one is able to see the pool of imagery and ideologies that helped shape Hancock's own mythical world.
"If you look at the grouping of the stories and belief systems that I learned from growing up, I wanted to take them apply them to my own art project based around a series of myths and symbols."
Through his prints, drawings, painting, collages and even ballet, Hancock has created an ongoing narrative involving a group of mythical creatures that live and die in the Tolkienesque underworld that he created. Within his universe, there are Vegans - small ant-like creatures that live in the underworld and militantly hate meat. There are Mounds - hairy mountainous creatures that are rooted in the Earth. There's a handful of supporting character's like Torpedo Boy, Painter and Lloyd, who frequently appear to help drive the story of good guys vs. evil forward. And, like any epic saga, there are plots and subplots that involve murder, drama and changing ideologies that evolve with the artist's work.
"I feel it's important to have this narrative coupled with paintings because it's something I haven't really seen before in the fine art world. I mean painters throughout history used narratives, even the abstract expressionists did, but I wanted to take it to a different place. I want to tell explicit stories and have them be major components of the work in order to create a new hybrid conversation."
Trenton was recently commissioned as one of the artists to do mural work in the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. His work is part of the collection at many museums, including The Brooklyn Museum, MoMA, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney. He was part of the PBS Series Art 21 and is represented by James Cohan Gallery in New York.
Alfred Kubin - “Alfred Kubin is one of my favorite artists. He had a dark sensibility that was unrelenting. He dug deep to find images that were quite disturbing and looking at his work is akin to watching a horror film.”
Joseph Campbell - “I grew up in a very religious Christian faith environment. When I discovered Joseph Campbell he really opened my mind. He offered ideas and perspectives about religious storytelling and myths that became very important to me and for my work.”
George Grosz - "I've taken a lot of ques from German artists, especially George Grosz. There's something very grotesque about his wartime depictions of humanity."
Georg Baselitz - "Baselitz's depiction of humanity is very disjointed. It's a chopped up version that interests me quite a bit. Looking at his paintings over the years has really benefited my work."
JRR Tolkien - "Within my mythology, I've created somewhat of a Tolkienesque hierarchy of characters. It's not about recreating those sorts of crusades. It's more about creating a universal language that everybody can bring their own ideas to."
Stanley Whitney - “Stanley Whitney is an amazing New York based painter. He was my Professor in graduate school and I have always been fascinated by his work. There is so much simplicity and amazing complexity that you see as you investigate his work. He is able to use color like no other artist.”
Marvel Universe - "The spirit of cataloging in my work can be traced back to the Marvel Universe of the early 1980's. I was really influenced by their images as a kid."
Stephen Mills - "Steven is the director and head choreographer at Ballet Austin. His ballets have a very narrative bent to them. He approached me to do a ballet about some of the characters in my paintings and we ended up making The Cult of Color: Call To Color. Working in this medium really helped me rediscover my own characters."
Cowboys Stadium - “I'm one of 15 artists to do a site-specific permanent piece for the new Cowboys Stadium. What the owner, Jerry Jones, did there with designating larger spaces for art is incredible. He exposed a totally new demographic to art. The stadium itself is amazing too. It’s hard to find something that adventurous and grand. It is a landmark.”
Aintitcool.com - “Any action, horror or sci-fi film must get the approval of Aint it Cool News if it wants to do well. It's run by Harry Knowles who specializes in the geekier side of things.”
Alejandro Jodorowsky – “Because Alejandro Jodorowsky's films were so strange and controversial he almost got kicked out of Mexico. His work was seen as threatening in a Conservative Christian atmosphere. He’s a bit of a crazy man. He’s interested in the upheaval of the mind and distortions of established symbols. His surrealist film, The Holy Mountain, is just amazing.”
James Cohan Gallery - “There’s a warmth I feel when I’m there. It feels more like a family and less like a business, which makes it very comfortable for showing art and talking about art. I’m proud to be represented there, it’s elegant and professional.”
Neue Gallery - “The Neue Gallery is less gallery and more museum. They specialize in Eastern European, German and Austrian art. It’s not contemporary, more turn of the century through the 1950s or so. They deal in the grotesque which I gravitate to.”
The Studio Museum - “The Studio Museum in Harlem shows a side of art that is not normally seen. They present a lot of underrepresented artists and show work that would otherwise have gone unseen. Director Thelma Golden is one of the greatest writers, curators and thinkers operating in the contempoary art word.”
Forbidden Planet - “Forbidden Planet has every comic book you can imagine. They also have really cool toys. Comics are one of the foundations of my work.”
John's Pizzeria - “John’s pizza uptown, by the theater district, has an amazing Fresco mural of the city from the early 20th century. I love this place because of that and the damn good pizza.”
Fabulous Fanny's - “Fabulous Fanny’s on 1st Ave. and 9th St has the best selection of glasses on the planet. They have new and vintage and the guys there really know their stuff. They’ve been there for as long as I can remember.”