By Gabriel Delgado
100% Cotton, a solo exhibition opening September 15th, 2022, at New River Fine Art is a sincere credence to the art of Andrew Cotton. His first solo exhibition with the gallery highlights the split-portrait portrayals that have gained the artist international recognition but also features a broader selection of new text-based works, abstract paintings, collaged surfboards, vintage Americana, gorgeous pinups, Hollywood icons, and coastal beach scenes.
As a young artist struggles to find his voice, the increasing lust of existence, the expanding inner-spirit is a self-directed cavernous echo that calls within him to know thyself, find thyself, and love thyself. This embracement of the genuine is not a guarantee for all who seek it. Something magical happens when he finally acknowledges that undefinable self-confident glow that internally manifests itself deep down in the catacombs of his soul, a presence that can arouse his very essence.
Those fortunate few, like Andrew Cotton, who realize these aspirations within themselves, thrive and rise to do amazing things.
South Florida based Andrew Cotton embraces his purpose and knows all too well the self-assurance and internal fortitude needed to advance forward through the uncharted, as he emerges as one of today’s the most sought-after contemporary artists. Cotton abides by his rigid rubrics and stays true to himself, his unique vision, and artistic calling… motivated by his unconquerable drive for creation.
As the title indicates, New River Fine Art explores the genuine and authentic story behind the artist, while showing the au courant of his work. Through the artwork, text, and gallery ephemera, we bear witness to the artist’s rise from an unknown street artist to a highly collected Contemporary fine artist.
Cotton’s education is accented with many academic laurels that provide a stable scholastic foundation for the artist. He was a scholarship recipient at the esteemed Belfast Park Fine Arts School, a primary institution that was instrumental in his acceptance at the prestigious Central St. Martins School of Art in Holborn, London. Such accumulated academe created and exceptional pedigree, granting confidence to the blossoming artist.
Curated contexts provide valuable visual insight into the multi-generational lineage of the Cotton family printing company in East London. Clearly it was here, under the apprenticeship of his grandfather, father, and their craftsman, that a young Andrew Cotton experienced first-hand all the intricate aspects of the professional printing trade – from block and offset to silkscreen and other techniques. In his more recent artwork, Cotton eloquently portrays a highly recognizable and signature aesthetic of contemporary art influenced by these personally cherished childhood memories. As he culled and caressed these recollections over the years, they undoubtedly manifested themselves through his use of wheat paste, paper collage, and large-scale printing techniques.
The painterly chronicle in 100% Cotton briefly touches on the artist’s more formative years after he departs the U.K. to arrive in the United States to sell graffiti-inspired Pop Art on the streets of New York City, before progressing to showcase his current body of work.
“As an artist, I am drawn to the free spirit of America,” says Andrew Cotton, describing his decision to move from London to New York City at the age of 24 to pursue a full-time art career.
It is important to note that before relocating to the South Florida region from New York, Cotton, along with a small group of fellow artists, operated a successful Art Truck, a mobile gallery that drove around the five Burroughs of New York selling art on the streets; not unlike how a typical food truck would serve its patrons. His distinctive art entrepreneurship landed him a street credibility sought after by so many budding contemporary artists. It was here in NYC, that he caught the eye of rapper, record executive, and media proprietor, Jay-Z, who would become one of Cotton’s early A-List collectors– more high-caliber clients would follow as Cotton developed a more mature visual voice.
100% Cotton shows a more resourceful artist in tune with his own artistic practices. Cotton embraces his coveted family lineage and formulaically calculates the building of his own brand with a narrower and more focused mindset to produce artwork that successfully blends pop culture, nostalgia, friendships, and kinships – a culmination where his authenticity is key for success.
For example, in “Basquiat,” Cotton presents a part anatomically correct portrait of the famous contemporary graffiti artist, juxtaposed with recognizable nomenclatures of Jean-Michel’s 1980’s identity- the gold crown and African mask. Taken together, we see a bold and beautiful split persona. Cotton creates the identifiable and recognizable facets of his subjects to exist simultaneously with the conceptual painterly identity that he has constructed. He brings forth, through visual clues and references, parts of their individual roles, personalities, and actions – a skewed contemporary caricature that emphasizes cultural ranks, not embellished sarcasm.
A large black and red painting with the 100% Cotton wording written into the composition itself reveals a more illustrative quality to Cotton’s work. White spray-painted outlines define a figure wearing a black and white polka-dotted bandana with a backwards baseball cap, elevated and menacing above a growling three-eyed horned devil. Surrounded by gestural markings, text, and simple sketches, these two entities are a throwback to a more graffiti-inspired time, an examination grounded more in historical reflection for the artist. Here, the artist gives a credible nod to his reinvestigations of a raw aesthetic vs. the photographic mixed-media collages that resonate with his reinvention of pop-culture consumption. However, both are 100% Cotton, in their own distinct styles.
Without doubt, the artist delivers a blockbuster exhibition, visually and conceptually using his own urban aesthetic that blends graffiti style texts, throw-ups, and tags, and with iconic stock imagery. Melded images of collage with compounded surface textures bring forth an audacious ferocity from an artist confident in all he stands for. In these visual narratives, he provides evidence of the 100% we all strive toward, the 100% full commitment, the 100% authenticity necessary to test our own integrity, the 100% satisfaction derived from a job well done.
Andrew Cotton shows us that anything is possible by staying true to one’s own personality, values, and spirit; regardless of the pressure from society to conform. Taken together, the portraits, text-based works, surf boards and collages combine into an exhibition that is 100% Cotton.
Andrew Cotton has shown in the New Museum in New York City and at renowned art fairs including Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary in Palm Beach, FL; Art Market and Design Hamptons in Bridge Hamptons, NY and Hamptons Fine Art Fair, South Hamptons, NY; among others.
100% Cotton is New River Fine Art’s premiere gallery exhibition of the Fall 2022 season, opening Sept 15, 2022, and running till Oct 16, 2022. For more information on 100% Cotton, visit www.newriverfineart.com, or email Wissam ElGhoul, Gallery Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.