For almost two decades, Trenton Doyle Hancock has been constructing his own fantastical narrative that continues to develop and inform his prolific artistic output. Part fictional, part autobiographical, Hancock’s work pulls from his own personal experience, art historical canon, comics and superheroes, pulp fiction, and myriad pop culture references, resulting in a complex amalgamation of characters and plots possessing universal concepts of light and dark, good and evil, and all the grey in between.
Hancock transforms traditionally formal decisions—such as his use of color, language, and pattern—into opportunities to create new characters, develop sub-plots and convey symbolic meaning. Hancock’s works are suffused with personal mythology presented at an operatic scale, often reinterpreting Biblical stories that the artist learned as a child from his family and local church community. His exuberant and subversive narratives employ a variety of cultural tropes, ranging in tone from comic-strip superhero battles to medieval morality plays and influenced in style by Hieronymus Bosch, Max Ernst, Henry Darger, Philip Guston and R. Crumb. Text embedded within the paintings and drawings both drives the narrative and acts as a central visual component. The resulting sprawling installations spill beyond the canvas edges and onto gallery walls.
As a whole, Hancock’s highly developed cast of characters acts out a complex mythological battle, creating an elaborate cosmology that embodies his unique aesthetic ideals, musings on color, language, emotions and ultimately, good versus evil. Hancock’s mythology has also been translated through performance, even onto the stage in an original ballet, Cult of Color: Call to Color, commissioned by Ballet Austin, and through site-specific murals for the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, TX, and at the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, WA.
Trenton Doyle Hancock was born in 1974 in Oklahoma City, OK. Raised in Paris, Texas, Hancock earned his BFA from Texas A&M University, Commerce, and his MFA from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, Philadelphia. In November 2020, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston unveiled Color Flash for Chat and Chew, Paris Texas in Seventy-Two, Hancock’s monumental tapestry commission, which will remain on permanent display in the Museum’s new Kinder Building. In 2019, a major exhibition of his work, Mind of the Mound: Critical Mass, opened at MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA. In 2014, his retrospective, Skin & Bones: 20 Years of Drawing, at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston traveled to Akron Art Museum, OH; Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; and Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, VA.
Hancock was featured in the 2000 and 2002 Whitney Biennial exhibitions, at the time becoming one of the youngest artists in history to participate in the prestigious survey. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions including Locust Projects, Miami, FL; Temple Contemporary, Philadelphia, PA; Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, MO; Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL; Weatherspoon Museum, Greensboro, NC; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. TX; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL; Institute for Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Olympic Sculpture Park at the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA; Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Hancock’s work is in the permanent collections of institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Brooklyn Museum; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Dallas Museum of Art; Menil Collection, Houston; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI; Morgan Library & Museum, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Akron Art Museum; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; and il Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea, Trento, Italy.