Trey Abdella's Painted World of Imaginative Mashups
Both on a technical and contextual level, Trey Abdella creates exceptional paintings that play with one's perception and the notion of familiarity. Effortlessly mixing a variety of visual languages and technical tricks, his latest series includes popular culture icons, placed in the middle of most surreal, often humorous situations.
Taking these cartoons as a reference, Abdella constructs images that transcend the plastic world of animation into realistic, rendered snapshots of life. With additional surreal and psychedelic elements,no aspects of his work feel predictable or dull. Bar dogs playing with jumper cables, Tom the cat playing baseball, Wile E. Coyote burning his toast, and recurring elements like shiny sinks and yellow rubber gloves tie these surprising images together.
Abdella has been in the scene for a few years now, working in numerous mediums that clearly show his remarkable talent and endless imagination. After receiving a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in NY, followed by an MFA from the New York Academy of Art, we got in touch with him in hopes of dissecting and understanding his quirky creations.––Sasha Bogojev
Sasha Bogojev: Ok, so first things first - what’s happening in your paintings?! How would you describe someone what are you making?
Trey Abdella: I was raised by my TV and computer and, because of that, I find myself constantly referring to cartoons, video games, and the internet to better understand the world around me. What’s happening in my paintings is actually pretty mundane; ordinary day to day stuff, like getting an uber pool, making toast, or doing the dishes. These very relatable tasks correlate to a certain degree of drama in my work.
How do you construct your images?
It starts with an idea, then I hunt for references on the internet, bookstores, and libraries. After that, I piece together my references in drawings and photoshop mockups. Then, I let the sketches simmer for a few days to see whether or not something is worth making.
What type of reaction do you hope to get from the viewers?
I want people to react the way I do when I order a small fry and I’m given a large.
And what type of reaction do you actually get?
People kind of just giggle.
Is there a story behind the yellow rubber gloves?
I’m kind of a clean freak and I’ve been wearing these rubber gloves since I was a kid. No matter how much I clean, my life is still a mess. These gloves represent me, in a way.
Are all the parts painted and what techniques are you using?
Everything is acrylic paint. I play around with different textures using molding paste and mixing a variety of things into the paint like rocks, beads, glass, and sand to give it a different consistency. Technique wise, I use a lot of airbrushes and employ traditional painting methods.
What do you like about mixing different visual languages?
It’s kind of a game for me, I’m constantly trying to surprise myself by painting things in different ways. Movies like "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" or "Cool World" influenced me with the ways that cartoons interact with the real world. I’m interested in combining different visual languages within my own narratives.
Do you have any shows or projects coming up that we should know about?
If you’re in Seattle, I’m in a group show curated by Anthony White called Ultra Light Beams, that opens February 7th at Mount Analogue.