Student View Series | Trenton Doyle Hancock | Bringing Imagination to Life at USFCAM

By Colleen Codd – Art History Major at USF

Abstract works of art with a surreal feel are a dime a dozen in the broad world of contemporary art, but Trenton Doyle Hancock proves that there is ground yet to be covered. On January 14th, Hancock brought part of his fanciful imagination to life on the walls of USF’s Contemporary Art Museum in his exhibit We Done All We Could and None of It’s Good. The exhibit presents a wide of a range of creatures that evolve and reappear throughout the various pieces, which utilize a variety of techniques, most of which are painting or drawing.

Trenton Doyle Hancock "Bad Promise"
Trenton Doyle Hancock's "Bad Promise" now on display at the USFCAM

The first painting encountered, “The Bad Promise,” draws the viewer in with its curiously deformed massive gray hand and large pink raindrops that fall through holes in the palm of the hand. Many of the works also have a collage-like feel to them due to the various random objects such as bottle caps, pieces of felt and clumps of dried paint that subtly become camouflaged appendages to the art.

Each individual piece has it’s own story to tell but with the overlapping characters there is an overarching story focused around the Mounds and their ordeals with good, evil, life, death and the afterlife. The mounds, which are essentially creatures reminiscent of video games and cartoons transformed into a range of both real and imaginary objects and creatures, weave together to form deeper individual narratives about fear, overindulgence, triumph and defeat.

Within these narratives, other characters such as the vegans plague the part plant, part animal Mounds in colorful images, almost all of which contain Hancock’s signature “pepto pink.” According to the artist, the “pepto pink” has been a part of his art for nearly 15 years. He considers it a visceral color which contains an element that connects all people with both naughty and nice insinuations.

Much of the work displayed in the “We Done All We Could and None of It’s Good” show at USFCAM deals with Hancock’s own personal feelings and experiences. This is especially true of the series of smaller drawings in the center of the museum. These small drawings are all self-portraits to varying degrees, many of which were started years ago and done in spaces as far from a studio as one can imagine, such as on an airplane. The scenes and characters that take place draw the viewer into Hancock’s own dark, twisted world while evoking universally familiar feelings as well.

As the Mounds and other figures shift from peering creatures to images of tombstones or the Ten Commandments, the viewer never loses a sense of overshadowing doom while simultaneously being exposed to vibrant colors set against black and gray backgrounds to add a cheery if not slightly disconcerting aspect to the works.

You Are a Liar and the Truth is NOT In You by Trenton Doyle Hancock
You Are a Liar and the Truth is NOT In You by Trenton Doyle Hancock

“You are a Liar and the Truth Is NOT In You” is one of many large paintings in the exhibit to show off Hancock’s pink and black color pallet while utilizing the Mounds and a Bible verse to add yet another ominous quality to the work. This is not an exhibit for the close-minded but if you enjoy brilliantly colored, curiosity evoking art and have an open mind to see the deeper meanings within each piece and make personal connections with it, then this exhibit will not only be enjoyable but mind-expanding as well.

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