Cleon Peterson Paintings and Prints
Cleon Peterson prints and paintings
Cleon Peterson is an LA based artist whose chaotic and violent paintings show clashing figures symbolizing a struggle between power and submission in the fluctuating architecture of contemporary society. Cleon’s paintings are monochromatic while channeling at the same time the fashion sensibility of the early 80’s, complete with skinny ties and day glow colors.
In Cleon Peterson’s anxiety-riddled world, violence is the status quo. His dystopian scenes evoke Thomas Hobbes’ description of life as war between individuals: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Many of Peterson’s paintings feature images of hostility removed from any scenery that might bring reason to bear a sense of justness to the brutality; the only context given is the mélange of evisceration coating the floor. In other works, the setting is a cityscape where storefronts only serve to indulge the base narcissism and vice taking place on the streets.
“A psychiatrist once bought one of my paintings, and he said I must be mad at my mother (laughs). Maybe, I don’t know. I’d say that part of what I’m painting are things that I feel like I’ve experienced – when I was at the low points in my life; when I was living on the streets, and a junkie…”
Where one might sense that painter Peterson’s characters occupy a lawless world, there is rather a significant presence of authorities, albeit wantonly corrupt and perhaps more savage than the civilian population. And while the official’s uniform connotes his mandate for dominance, the real power is vested in an erratic sea of like-minded miscreants that forces outsiders to bend to its will. Deviance is simply the norm, and the displaced individual is forced to navigate this wicked world alone, finding hollow bits of pleasure and meaning in violence, sex, religion and drugs.
Artist Cleon Peterson describes his bedlam as “a gray world where law breakers and law enforcers are one in the same; a world where ethics have been abandoned in favor of personal entitlement.”
“I have always had a brutal sadistic perspective and for some reason my sense of humor usually ends up taking things to an uncomfortable place. I am always drawn to narratives that evoke a sinister or devious side of culture, the tragic movies where everyone dies or where the hero winds up ordinary. I think there is a truth everyone can relate to in feelings of struggle, desperation, pain and failure. The grey area between the dualistic nature of authority in our world is where these paintings live.”
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