Spotting the Trentbear Blues, 2014
Acrylic and mixed media on canvas
50.8 x 50.8 x 5.08 cm
20 x 20 x 2 in
20 x 20 x 2 in
Trenton Doyle Hancock (b. 1974, Oklahoma City, USA) has, since childhood, been interested in issues of morality and ethics, especially those defined by Christian beliefs. He grew up in an all American household governed by these ideals, and over a lifetime has developed his own parallel (sometimes contradictory) value system incorporating his love of toys and the narratives played out by comic book characters. What began simply in his youth necessitated by a desire to manage a seemingly endless amount of resources, questions and life information, has continued as a grand narrative into adult life, pulling in a deepening understanding of life’s thematic complexities, current events and existential conundrums which have come to form the complex narrative basis for Hancock’s paintings, drawings, murals, theatrical performances and film. This, combined with constant inspiration drawn from classical comic book imagery, pop art and American cinema (especially the horror genre), as well as the aesthetic of classic prints (Durer, Goya, Daumier, Kathe Kollwitz, etc.), creates Hancock’s unique approach to collaged painting. 'Spotting the Trentbear Blues' (2014) is one of Hancock’s recent paintings, continuing Hancock’s ongoing grand saga portraying the birth, death, afterlife and dream-like states of a range of characters. This saga is centred on the opposing races of the Mounds (half- animal, half-plant like creatures) and their aggressors, the Vegans. These creatures exist in a fictional universe governed by two god-like spirit energies: Loid (a stark, stern, paternal energy characterised by black-and-white bands of words and worshipped by the Vegans) and Painter (a colourful, lenient, maternal balancing energy). In Hancock’s narrative, these two forces were separated around 50,000 years ago. In Hancock’s new body of work, however, which Hancock describes as a “new beginning”, the storyline is shifted, and the two opposing forces of Loid and Painter are re-joined to form a new being, Ploid, paving the way for the entrance of a new series of characters. In this work, Trentbear, one of Hancock’s animal/human hybrid alter-egos, peers through the branches of a tree at a figure with a female form. The character of Trentbear, according to Hancock, can be understood as an embodied expression of the more “animal” side of his human nature, highlighting the artist’s more primal desires and appetites. It is important to note that in Hancock’s eyes Trentbear remains a harmless entity within the Moundverse.