Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Pink Unicorns, Cowboys and Candy Clouds: Welcome to Will Cotton’s Own Wild West

Will Cotton, Bareback, 2019. Oil on linen, 80 x 50 in. Courtesy Templon, Paris – Brussels and the artist © Adagp, Paris, 2020.

Museums And Exhibitions

Pink Unicorns, Cowboys and Candy Clouds: Welcome to Will Cotton’s Own Wild West

As unicorns stand as a strong emblem for the LGBTQ community, Will Cotton’s latest works are the perfect way to get your arty fix in Pride Month. Visit The Taming of the Cowboy at Galerie Templon, Brussels.

New York-based artist Will Cotton is widely known for his distinctive iconography and style. Even those uninterested in art will recognize his candy clouds and foodscapes from his collaboration with Katy Perry. But aside from his artistic directorship of Perry’s California Gurls, the chart-topping single which saw the launch of her Teenage Dream era, Cotton has been experimenting with painting since the 1990s.

The Taming of the Cowboy at Galerie Templon, Brussels. Will Cotton, Bareback, 2019. Oil on linen, 80 x 50 in. Courtesy Templon, Paris – Brussels and the artist © Adagp, Paris, 2020.

Inspired by pin-up posters, Candy Land, and William Adolphe Bouguereau’s mythic nudes, Cotton works in a photo-realist style to play on desire. Continuously seeking to visualize his striking scenes, he often builds his own sets and props to accompany his paintings from life. Cotton has long merged real women with sweet treats, creating a sensory pleasure for viewers. Although, in Cotton’s world, a dark cloud of consumer culture lurks behind what is soft, pink and sugar-coated. Taking elements of advertising, he channels what makes us yearn for more. Taste, beauty and idealized forms come together to build his utopias, highlighting the excess of society.

Will Cotton, Flying Cowboy
The Taming of the Cowboy at Galerie Templon, Brussels. Will Cotton, Flying Cowboy, 2020. Oil on linen, 96 x 72 in. Courtesy Templon, Paris – Brussels and the artist © Adagp, Paris, 2020

Wyoming’s Cowboys

However, Cotton’s latest show at Galerie Templon depicts a new subject in his foodscapes. The exhibition is his first at the space in 10 years, and will feature oil paintings and drawings. Titled The Taming of the Cowboy, the show draws on a visit to Wyoming. Cotton had previously spent little time in Western America, only seeing cowboys through films and American myths. Throughout a residency he was completing there, he began to sketch cowboys in their natural environment, considering their actuality as well as what they have come to symbolize.

Will Cotton, Roping
The Taming of the Cowboy at Galerie Templon, Brussels. Will Cotton, Roping, 2019. Oil on linen, 60 x 50 in. Courtesy Templon, Paris – Brussels and the artist © Adagp, Paris, 2020.

Over time, cowboys have grown to represent Western dominance, American masculinity and power. Cotton’s depictions are contrasting, now making traditional cowboys ride pink unicorns amongst cotton-candy clouds and marshmallows. It is no coincidence that the exhibition is in the midst of an electoral campaign, as a symbol of American history straddles what is pink, magical and free.

The Perfect Steed

Although fascinated by Wyoming’s real-life cowboys, Cotton didn’t see them as a lone creative vision. Previously he had been working on a unicorn character, which soon became the perfect steed for his cowboys. Like cowboys, unicorns have a plethora of associations: fluidity, individuality, and of course, LGBTQ mascot. Merging the two icons highlighted the politics behind the series, with the figures sometimes in conflict and others united. Blurring the lines between the masculine and feminine, or real life and magic, Cotton challenges societal boundaries to charge into a more liberal world.

Will Cotton, Marshmallow Cowboy
Will Cotton, Marshmallow Cowboy, 2020. Oil on linen, 75 x 50 in. Courtesy Templon, Paris – Brussels and the artist © Adagp, Paris, 2020.

Visit Will Cotton’s The Taming of the Cowboy at Galerie Templon, Brussels, running until 25 July. Can’t make the show? See it online via Templon’s virtual viewing room.


Yasmin is an English Literature with Creative Writing graduate who works in the art industry; privileged to visit various exhibitions around London, she writes about her favourites in her spare time.

Comments

More in Museums And Exhibitions

  • 21st century

    Traversing the Unseen: Interview with Multi-Media Artist Sara Osebold

    By

    Sara Osebold (b. 1975) is a contemporary, multi-media artist who creates drawings and sculptures and is based in Seattle. The artist’s work takes us on a sensory journey adding a dose of visual medicine. Mixed media drawings are fused together with ink, mica, graphite, clay, pigments, etc....

  • 21st century

    The Louvre Pyramid and 5 Other Art Museums Designed by Ieoh Ming Pei

    By

    Ioh Ming Pei (貝聿銘) (1917-2019) was a Chinese American modernist architect with international acclaim. Exciting for art history fans, many of Pei’s buildings are art museums. This means you can visit the architecture and the artworks all in one place! The cultural institutions which Pei designed reflect the heritage...

  • 21st century

    Exploring the Boundaries of Creativity: Turning Data into Art

    By

    Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, and now based in Los Angeles, California, media artist Refik Anadol turns data into pieces of art by using data science and artificial intelligence. He set off on his journey as a media artist by asking the question “Can we...

  • 21st century

    Meet the Award-winning Sculptor and Installation Artist Ayşe Erkmen

    By

    Berlin-based Turkish visual artist Ayşe Erkmen has been awarded the Ernst Franz Vogelmann Prize for Sculpture in 2020. As the first woman artist to receive this prize, she will have her sculptures Kuckuck (2003) and not the color it is (2014) displayed in the retrospective exhibition...

  • 20th century

    Micha Ullman’s Empty Library: An Ode to Culture

    By

    A symbol of education in the city of Berlin, the Bebelplatz Square was chosen on May 10, 1933 by Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Education and Propaganda of the Nazi government, to carry out the infamous autodafé. This sad episode of German history consisted of the burning...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy