Equestrian artist Arden Cone’s relationship to the horse show world is a closely examined one. Like most daughters of professional trainers, she grew up with a realist’s view of it. It is a scene of excess and privilege, but the glamorous exterior doesn’t hide the truth from everyone. After all, glamour has to be manufactured by someone. It’s a job left to the grooms, the trainers and their pony jock daughters, and it must be done—even if it means hitting the ground more than a time or two.
“Being a professional’s daughter, you get a more complete understanding of the machine that is the horse show industry: you put backbreaking work in one side and it spits out a world of bows, trophies, and cute, little welsh ponies. How strange it is, but this is the equation that that drives the whole world.” This unbalanced equation is the inspiration for Arden’s most recent series of paintings. The horse appears in Arden’s paintings as a figure, but you’d be hard-pressed to label them as “equestrian art.” They are much more fresh and contemporary than most of the traditional sporting and equestrian art that you find.
Lavish landscapes of confections give representation to the excessive worlds that we inhabit. There exists everything in abundance—even beauty—and, oh, how it appeals to the senses! Worlds of temptation beckon us in, and why should we refuse?
Arden’s works are rendered in oil paint, but she also incorporates sprinkles in acrylic resin into the paintings. The combination of real sweets and their visual stand-ins makes for an interesting duality. The tension between reality and artifice is stressed in other aspects as well. For example, the figures in the painting inhabit what seem to be hybrid lands. “Where is this place, anyway?” the viewer may ask. Is it the real world, or is it some sort of Candyland? These questions are not readily answered; instead they are left to the interpretation of the viewer.
Arden strives first and foremost to create compelling compositions, ones that speak fluently. The meaning of the work, on the other hand, remains like a quiet classmate. There’s a lot going on in there, but it’s okay if it isn’t expressed loudly. The strength of these paintings is in their subtlety.
Check out more equestrian art and learn more information by going to Arden’s website.