TA:EX 6898, Trey Abdella,Downhill from here, T293, Rome, 31 October - 30 November 2019

Downhill from Here

Location T293, Rome
DateOctober 31 - November 30, 2019
Auto-fiction is a literary artifice in which fictional characters that represents the actual author of a work of fiction appears either overtly or in disguise, as an idealized figure within that narrative. The practice, usually read from a psychological perspective, is also hugely applied in visual arts, where artists include themselves in their narratives, as happens in figurative self-portraits until abstract interpretations of oneself.
‘Downhill from Here’, the first solo exhibition in Europe of the New-York based artist Trey Abdella, presents at T293 a new series of paintings where the most ordinary situations as cooking, ironing and gardening are portrayed from an overwhelming and personal point of view, a narrative which finds its strength on the banality of life itself.
The artist, drawing inspiration from 90’s classic movies as ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’ and ‘Cool World’ creates a universe in which cartoons co-exist with real life figures. As well as the visual conception of the late American Surrealists, as the Chicago Imagists, which distanced themselves from the artistic vanguard to create a whole new imagery of their own, Abdella sources surrealism, comics aesthetics and personal experiences to then illustrate mental states, unconventional ideas and mostly, elaborated fictional worlds.
Establishing a peculiar combination between both worlds, the paintings emphasizes the overwhelming sense of mortality of our lives while depicting extra-friendly situations. The artist is mostly inspired by his own life-misadventures, looking at them from a personal perspective, inserting as a witness the depiction of his own hands, present in many works.
Abdella immerses himself on our contemporary culture, with its enormous imagery production and assembles references as wide as Baroque realism, passing through classic cartoon languages, until our digital culture. The acrylic paint is the base for all his paintings, but in some cases the artist inserts actual material elements, such as glue, glass and glitter, transforming the canvas into an almost tridimensional piece. Merging different painting languages and experimenting with materials and techniques, he creates a new visual speech which reflects of what today’s youth are experiencing: a massive visual and information attack, mostly through the omnipresent social media.
Abdella’s paintings are a never-ending discourse, a universe of references which evokes through the painting our contemporary surreality, in which the limits between real life and fiction are as close of disappearing than ever.
Trey Abdella – 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.

Past Exhibitions