Cotton’s Candied Confections
Sweet is such a delightful
and complex word.
It represents everything
I want to paint about:
and the dream of complete indulgence
in a perfect world.
The artist Will Cotton has been a fixture in the New York art world for almost a decade, using classical, Old Masters’ painting techniques to create completely modern confections. His subject matter may at first appear strange—he paints naked women cavorting in candy and cookies landscapes, a soft-core Candyland in soft pinks and whites—but it is ultimately irresistible.
taken to an extreme degree,
as it is in my pictures,
and that’s where it gets
interesting for me.
Candy for Cotton is what dark lush forests were for the 18th masters; an ideal of plenty and a site for temptation. There are no consequences depicted in these hedonistic scenes, but viewers know that outside the fantasy indulgence will have its price. Whether the models are his scenes’ protagonists, or just eye-candy, they never appear satiated or at peace. As we know, Candy may satisfy emotional needs and frivolous fancies, but in the end it only distracts the body from its genuine hungers, producing fat not fulfilment. Like the fatty foods he paints, Cotton’s paintings might appear light, but they are heavy with meaning.
The 44-year-old artist has long used an oven in his New York studio, making his own baked goods and then using them as models for his artwork, but he is about to take his pastry prowess to the public. For the next three Sunday afternoons, Cotton will be selling baked goods, including cookies, macaroons, and tarts, at new gallery Partners & Spade in downtown Manhattan.
“The difference between visiting my bakery and any other is essentially curatorial. It’s not just a random selection of sweets, it’s a collection of smells and tastes that have been important to me in my work, and have informed a lot of the imagery,” he explains.
“For me, making art is about telling a story and I’ve been feeling lately like there’s more to be said that’s not purely visual. Smells are so powerful and evocative, sometimes stronger than visual cues.” For the geographically advantaged, Cotton’s incriminatingly delicious art can be sampled at 40 Great Jones Street on November 8, 15, and 22.