17 APRIL – 17 JULY 2022

Trey Abdella’s first solo exhibition in China assembles new and older works of engrossing yet evocative daily fragments filled with exuberant colours and nostalgic aesthetics, elucidating images of American pop culture and personal memories in an era of perpetual change. Widely known for his ironic, often tragic approach to everyday events, Abdella brings to the fore personal yet relatable conceptions of Americana. Abdella’s works play with iconographic elements of American holidays, habits, and trivialities, which shine a light on the darker side of his native culture. Mixing his personal remembrances with experiences shared by nearly every American Millennial, the artist in effect produces an X-ray of the country, exposing the underlining anxieties embedded in its culture.
Each work contains breath-taking moments, woven with joy, excitement, embarrassment, disgust, and fear. Abdella wrests drama from the otherwise monotonous, and ventures beyond the canvas into experimental territory by pairing paintings with found objects in order to translate the innermost feelings. Pop culture is experienced through the lens of horror and melancholy in THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL, 2022 – a shattered Live Laugh Love photo frame that splits apart to reveal a deranged family – and in MIDNIGHT MASS, 2022, where the silhouette of a young punk frames the image of a close-up bunny paw in front of a bloody crucifix on a church altar.
Abdella’s works build a disruptive presence and present psychologically charged narratives by oscillating between reality and illusion. Viewers of his work become voyeurs, experiencing the thrill of peeking into the intimate lives of others. These stolen looks, hiding between pleated blinds of the museum’s corrugated walls, provoke both anxiety and secret exhilaration. Uncomfortable sensation and ambiguity anxiety erupts, bringing bodies from earth to heaven. The suffocating silence and uncertainty captured awakens interest in those hidden truths, accompanied by fear and repulsion, to create an experience that plays hide-and-seek with viewers’ emotions.
Through his experience from West Virginia to New York City, Abdella examines and illustrates the footsteps of growth with slapstick humour and murmuring tenderness. As the by-product of an environment that praises exuberance, in his artworks, Abdella overemphasises his traumas as well as his rewards, and invites the viewer to experience the trivial aspects of life with the same intensity as he does, following the suggestion of the words by Rainer Maria Rilke: “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”

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