Ice cream cavern | Will Cotton | 2003
The complete satisfaction of desire in marketing times takes a very special meaning for the American Will Cotton. If in the Renaissance they dreamed of Arcadia, a mythical pastoral society in communion with nature; Cotton interprets the same ideal, but he adapts it to contemporary desire. He doesn’t speak of an intrinsic desire of man, but of one given by the media, which “bombard us with hundreds, if not thousands of messages designed specifically to incite desire within us”, in the words of the painter.
Influenced by the American landscape tradition (specifically the Hudson River School), he thinks that the landscape should be also an object of desire itself. Thus, his paintings consist of portraits of characters in landscapes composed of goodies. In the foreground, he portrays pin-up style women and, in the background, he composes his works with cotton candy, ice cream, churros, cakes and sweets. To find inspiration, the artist opened a French bakery in Manhattan, where he shares with the public the aromas and feelings he wants to illustrate in his paintings.
In Cavern of ice cream, Cotton shows us an unknown woman, like Ingres’s bathers, reclining with her back to us. The background make us to think in a cold place, but the woman appears naked and perfectly comfortable in the cave, as if the artist wanted to make a counterpoint between warmth and coldness, or contrast the superficiality of a product with the depth of a naked character. The woman’s eroticism and the voluptuousness of the ice cream in the background of the work don’t interrupt into the spectator’s perception but, curiously, they reflect harmony and peace.