Critics’ Picks

Give 'em an Inch and They'll Take a Foot, 2006.

Give 'em an Inch and They'll Take a Foot, 2006.

New York

Trenton Doyle Hancock

James Cohan
48 Walker Street
March 4–April 15, 2006

Elaborating on his onanistic patriarch Homerbuctas in Me a Mound, 2006, a catalogue released to accompany the artist's latest New York solo show, Trenton Doyle Hancock writes that the character “has an eye for beauty, but knows no moderation.” The same could be said for the artist, who has once again transposed his dynamic inner world onto the gallery walls in a humorous cyclone of obscurantist folklore. In the front room the outstretched Vegan Arm, 2006, greets the viewer with a pail of Pepto-Bismol, offering either a generous gesture of relief or a silent jussive to get to work. The artist's best pieces are barely restrained, wildly chromatic paintings like Give 'em an Inch and They'll Take a Foot, 2006, and etchings such as The Ossified Theosophied (Harmony), 2005, which could be an homage by R. Crumb to the later work of Philip Guston. Hancock retains the intentional crudeness and referential promiscuity of his previous shows, though the narrative he charts, an epic saga of two groups, the Mounds and the Vegans, continues to develop, this time with one of the Vegans (named Sesom—Moses backwards) bringing color to the underworld. Resembling a cockeyed version of Biblical tales and Hesiod's Theogeny, Hancock's talent lies less in the originality of his tropes and more in his deft adulteration of our culture's organizing memes, presented here in an entertaining meditation on the relationship between creativity, sustenance, and asceticism.