Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
NYC Benefit Auction 2018
Becoming the Toymaker: Phase 40 of 41, 2017
Acrylic and mixed media on canvas
24 x 24 x 6 inches
Courtesy of the artist and the James Cohan Gallery
Artist Trenton Doyle Hancock’s largest ever museum exhibition, Mind of the Mound: Critical Mass opens this spring in MASS MoCA’s signature Building 5 gallery: “About 50,000 years ago an ape man named Homerbuctas masturbated in a field of prehistoric flowers giving birth to a legend, no, “The” Legend. For years, there have been reports of large, furry, smelly heaps residing in wooded areas around the world. These reports are supposed sightings of the cryptid (creature not yet verified by science), simply known to cryptozoologists as Mounds. I am, for reasons that I can’t quite explain, connected to these mysterious Mound creatures.”
Becoming the Toymaker: Phase 40 of 41 is a part of the “Becoming the Toymaker” series of 44 paintings relating to Hancock’s monumental exhibition, which is itself a large-scale rendering of his still-unfolding mythology. The central character in this piece is called Bringback. Bringbacks are mutated souls of Mounds that also have the power to transform humans into yet more Bringbacks. According to Hancock. the artist himself was kidnapped by Bringbacks and underwent the transition, becoming a Bringback himself. As a Bringback, Hancock helped design and produce toys related to the Moundverse.
About the artist
Trenton Doyle Hancock grew up in Paris, Texas, to a family of evangelical Baptist ministers and missionaries. Supplementing his religious upbringing with comic books and Greek mythology, at the age of 10 he invented Torpedo Boy — an alter ego/superhero he still uses today. At this young age, Hancock already began to develop a singular mythology, which has evolved over the years. Ultimately birthing his own creation myth — as played out through paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, and installation — Hancock tells the story of the Mounds (gentle hybrid plant-like creatures) protected by Torpedo Boy, and their enemies, the Vegans (mutants who consume tofu and spill Mound blood every chance they get). These narratives explore good and evil, authority, race, moral relativism, and religion, all while creating a truly unique body of visual art referencing artists such as Philip Guston and Henry Darger, as well as making unapologetic nods to comic books, illustrations, animations, horror films, and toys.