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Will Cotton uses cakes, whipped cream and cotton candy to create iconic art. The American painter known for his oil paintings of pin-ups immersed into cake-landscapes and cream has inaugurated his first solo exhibition at the Ronchini gallery, in London, until August 9th. Fine Dining Lovers wanted to learn more about the “cooking techniques” behind the delicious contemporary artworks.
The four new works of Will Cotton exhibited at the Mayfair-based Ronchini gallery complement more than 10 years of landscapes of plenty, where sweets and indulgence are a metaphor for pure pleasure. In fact the use of food in his work, as well as the voluptuous women depicted, constitutes an allegory of the human condition. Cotton’s new works have titles such as Beyond the pleasure Principle or The Deferred Promise of Complete Satisfaction: these masterfully detailed and realistic oil paintings reinterpret the style of European 18th masters. Pop culture is mixed with high culture.
In a recent interview for the Guardian, Cotton admitted to having a sweet tooth with candies playing a big part in his life. Cotton wants his works to look real: if he paints Macarons, he’s also eating and smelling a Macaron. Believing in the fiction that he’s about to paint is the best way for him to make painted fiction more believable for others. If candy is the most universal metaphor for all pleasure seekers, Cotton’s candy land in the kitchen and studio also are. In his New York studio, the painter begins his works by building a model. The delicious smell of baked goods floats all over the place. Funnily enough, the Tribeca loft where the artist lives and works was once a candy factory and the words “almond paste” and “confectionery” still visible on the façade.
Among his recent multidisciplinary collaborations, we see projects such as a Ladurée Macaron box and flavor, and a real life temporary French bakery in collaboration with the NY based creative bureau Partners & Spade. He was the art director of Katy Perry’s 2010 California Girls music video in which the pop singer appears in the confectionary world that the artist has been painting for the last 20 years. One of the most iconic pieces is the Cotton Candy Katy oil on linen painting that the artist kept for himself for 3 entire years before selling it to a collector. They had a cotton candy machine running all day long in order to constantly replenish the cotton candy cloud. The friend of the artist who was running the machine was literally just throwing cotton candy around Katy as she was posing.
As Cotton commented during the London exhibition, sweetness taken to a higher extreme can become cloying or even repulsive and that’s where it gets interesting for him. Reportedly his next subject will be the origin of chocolate. We are all very curious to see where the mastering of another sweet art will take him next. century