Will Cotton – 'The Taming of the Cowboy'


28/05/2020 - 25/07/2020

Will Cotton – 'The Taming of the Cowboy'

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Ten years after his last exhibition at Galerie Templon, the New York painter Will Cotton,
famous for his depictions of all kinds of sweets, is unveiling a provocative and quirky
exhibition at the gallery's Brussels space: The Taming of the Cowboy.
In a nod to his country’s political schizophrenia in the midst of the electoral campaign,
Will Cotton offers a new take on the myth of the cowboy, symbolizing the conquest of
the West. His large, ostensibly classical oil paintings portray a surprising encounter
between triumphant cowboys and their fantastical steeds: pink unicorns.
The figure of the cowboy evokes a strong sense of American masculinity, associated
with freedom, manifest destiny and a culture of violence. In contrast, the unicorn --
particularly when pink -- reminds us of a more contemporary mythology that has in
recent years taken possession of the little girls' section of toy and clothing departments
everywhere. Questioning the notion of gender, the exhibition explores the relationship
between the sexes along with the hyper-sexualisation of childhood, the notion of queer,
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and the LGBT movement, whose global mascot has recently become the rainbow
The show features a group of oil paintings as well as new drawings in oil, sanguine and
pencil inspired by his trips to Wyoming in the USA and Camargue in France. A variation
on the cowboy-unicorn duo, these works on paper offer a humorous deconstruction of
the question of representation.
In the world of Will Cotton, beautiful compositions and landscapes made of cascading
sweet treats or mountains of meringue are not only an ode to the opulence of an idealised
America or a lost paradise. They also mark a desire to question painting. His technically
masterful style of painting explores the fluidity between different identities and cultural as
well as artistic categories: popular icons versus classical painting, timeless myths versus
advertising images.

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