Downhill From Here, review by Jessica Ross
Trying to untangle the imagery of Trey Abdella’s madcap paintings equates in an attempt to decipher the entire internet. Absurdist figures operate banal activities within anxiety-filled spaces, it’s enough to make your head spin. It’s this chaotic energy that reels you in and simultaneously challenges you to untwist the non-sensical narrative that is unfurling before you. Utilizing a myriad of painterly techniques, Abdella successfully blends hyperreality with illustrative, cartoonish moments, resulting in an almost transgressive conglomeration. Most of his figures seem to be at the precipice of a mental breaking point, angrily engaging in a variety of stress-inducing domestic undertakings, confronting their own caricature selves and subsequent existential dread. Mirrored in Abdella’s paintings is the collective mood of the internet, manic and oversaturated, every image dripping in irreverence and comedy.
In “Downhill From Here,” his first solo at T293, Abdella pulls from his own Rolodex of ’90s and ‘00s references. Raised on television, video games and internet culture, “Downhill From Here” employs these cartoons as stand-ins for Abdella’s own experiences. Diametrically opposed to normality, his paintings assemble fictitious characters and styles, utilizing experimental painting methods and blending influences to a maniacal extent. He is unafraid to make something ugly, while executing it beautifully. There are few, if not zero rules when it comes to Abdella’s work, he neither accepts nor rejects anything, thus redefining contemporary painting and how it serves us. Fabricated and diaristic all at once, Abdella embraces the eccentric, the ribald, the chaotic, leaving us to scratch our heads and chuckle, just as we do on the web. “Downhill From Here” is on view at T293 in Rome through November 30th, be sure to see this one in person.