Thu 9 Nov 2023 to Sat 13 Jan 2024
Artist: Trey Abdella
David Lewis announces the representation of Trey Abdella, in collaboration with Vito Schnabel Gallery, and the artist’s debut solo exhibition with the gallery, a two-part exhibition titled “Under the Skin.”
Trained as illustrator and animator at SVA, followed by a master’s degree in classical figurative oil painting at the New York Academy of Art, Abdella draws on classical technique to invent contemporary worlds and ideas, reckoning with the horror and melancholy of the American dream. In his New York debut, Abdella continues to develop a unique visual language influenced by craft hobbyists and amusement parks in order to further his critique of American life. At the same time, he shifts from painting into assemblage, and offers a transition to an immersive experience with the singular monumental sculpture, “Under the Skin.”
“Under the Skin” imagines a forensic experience of sculpture, akin to the “Alice-in-Wonderland” experience of “Honey I Shrunk the Kids.” It is Americana experienced, and magnified, to a cellular level, at once microscopic and telescopic, and profoundly anatomical: making visible the anatomy of ideology—its bones and ligaments. It is Americana as if seen in a Bakhtinian diorama in a Museum of Natural History.
Crowned at a height of over ten feet with a giant mosquito, whose abdominal blood is a lava lamp, and which seems to be hiding amidst a row of hair follicles made from wigs, “Under the Skin” then descends through the layers of the epidermis, looking through veins and the roots of hair follicles to arrive at a layer even more zoomed-in exaggeration of plastic blood-cells encasing a mountainous town. The town has a fully operating animatronic vehicular and train system. It is in the mountains; it is very small, it is Middle America, Lynchian, haunted, uncannily perfect: Church, cemetery, police station; a single one-street circle which goes nowhere. There are deer, people fishing, and football players practicing. Plummeting below this miniature surface, we zoom back out—this is the third such sudden scale shift—to discover a burrow of life-sized holographic, lenticular, animatronic, stuffed rabbits multiple kinds of rabbit—even a rabbit Pez dispenser— beneath the seemingly placid surface of the town. This is the base level, the earth.
There are many secrets in Abdella’s magic American mountain. One worth noting—perhaps as a secret key: the lyrics to the first line of the National Anthem, tying everything and everyone and all of it together, in an unsettling religious way, etched into the cellular blood of American society, laser cut into the transparent red blood-cells that encapsulate the seemingly perfect town.
The exhibition continues concurrently at Vito Schnabel Gallery in Chelsea, which includes new wall works depicting hyperrealistic images with sculptural elements.
Trey Abdella (b. 1994) received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts and his MFA at the New York Academy of Art. Solo presentations of Abdella’s work have been held at X Museum (Beijing, 2022), KÖNIG GALERIE (Seoul, 2021; Berlin, 2020) and T293 Gallery (Rome, 2021; 2019). Abdella has been included in group exhibitions at Vito Schnabel Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, David Lewis Gallery, New York, NY and Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles, CA among others. Abdella lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.