Magic Potion: A Studio Visit with Trey Abdella
If you have ever wondered what would happen to paintings if they fell into a bucket of magic potion, Trey Abdella's work would be the answer. Last week, we stopped by Abdella's studio at the New York Academy of Art, as he was selected there for the Chubb Fellowship along with Chloe Chiasson and Zachary Sitrin. Now working on large-scale pieces and using a variety of techniques, the West Virginia-born artist seems to be getting the most out of his new studio at the landmark institution.
In his work, Abdella renders personal experiences and emotions, forming highly metaphoric, even hilarious imagery. Growing up binge-watching cartoons, exaggeration is one of the best terms that describes most of his practice. Almost chaotic when it comes to mixing diverse visual styles or materials, the works will regularly feature realism next to rawly drawn elements (mostly the hand, as the metaphor of the artist himself), along with intensely sculpted textures or even actual objects. The results are intense, almost giving the viewer a proverbial rollercoaster of experiences as you read through the narrative and crack through the technical ingenuity.
Just before our visit, Abdella had just completed a stupefying tumble drier image (above in gallery) which is planned to be displayed inside an equally impressive installation. There was also a painting of an atmospheric bar scene, in which the artist successfully airbrushed the dimmed light atmosphere in the back with a masterful mesh fabric with custom-made paste (he then, almost hyper-realistically, rendered leather surface in acrylic). Such a unique blend of means is also noticeable in a poolside scene piece, showing a cartoon character cannonballing next to a swimming man behind him.
Gracing the biggest studio wall is a very personal introspective moment the artist told us he experienced in a bathroom of Miami Art Basel. Placed in a lavatory, almost infinity room-like setting, the main character is crying sparkling tears above the sink, representing every artist's insecurity and self-doubt moment, but on steroids. To make things more confusing, Abdella's paintings will often have some accessories added to the mix, such as a collar tag, friendship bracelet, chain, piece of cloth, fabric label, or a pushpin, each of them an example of an unpredictable and borderline manic approach to constructing work. —Sasha Bogojev