Critics’ Picks

View of “Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Drawing.”

Houston

Trenton Doyle Hancock

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
5216 Montrose Boulevard
April 26 - July 20

Chaotic frenzy might be the phrase that comes to mind when walking into Trenton Doyle Hancock’s twenty-year survey of his drawing practice. Loosely divided into five sections with more than two hundred individual works, this exhibition enjoys a deep foray into the mind of the artist, and even includes very early drawings by the ten-year-old Hancock of his alter ego character, Torpedoboy.

Almost every inch of the main gallery is covered with Hancock’s fantastical and often grotesque imagery. The main section, titled Moundish, includes drawings and collages associated with the artist’s recurring subject of a mythological world inhabited by the compassionate Mounds and the ill-hearted Vegans. In Family Portrait (Mound Half and Ape Half), 2003, for example, Hancock depicts the ancestry of his fictional characters, who were birthed by an ape-man masturbating in a field of flowers 50,000 years ago.

In the section titled the Studio Floor, ten drawings from 2002 are exhibited that mark the start of the cartoon and graphic narrative in Hancock’s work. Five panels present Torpedoboy battling the Vegans while the final five find him encountering a prostitute. In the second panel Studio Floor: Encounter with the Vegans 2, which is split into four sections, we witness Torpedoboy swiping all of the Vegans’ cubed tofu and heading toward a ladder back to street level, fooling the Vegans into thinking he would return the food. In the end, we are able to see an immense growth in the artist’s work, while not losing the spontaneous fun that comes with drawing in the margins of notebooks.