"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."
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.
Peterson's work is best described as stop motion animation meets a finely rendered renaissance cartoon. The subject matter is intense, a slow motion brawl where no one wins or loses: it just goes on and on like a bad marriage. The work brings to mind the art of Chicago – based artist Henry Darger, Where Darger's work is marked by the mystery of a fantasy gone terribly wring, Peterson's bold intentions immediately draw the viewer in. There is no mystery or ironic twist. All the pain and suffering is up front, undisguised.
The work portrays a view of our modern world, with all of its wrongs and injustices. The movie in Peterson's mind plays out in ultra-violent scenes he captures in his paintings.
Each square wood panel adjacent to the other panels forms a larger perfect grid of different violent scenarios. The sophistication of this work is drawn from Peterson's innate knowledge of design and composition. He started as a skateboard designer after leaving his native Seattle for San Diego where he worked for Toy Machine and BLK/MRKT (Shepard Fairey and Kinsey's design company). The works seems to reflect German expressionism while capturing the overlapping imagery of The Italian Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello and the complicated figuration of the mid evil artist Bruegel's sick caricatures.
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.
Cleon received his MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Detroit, MI and a BFA in Graphic Design at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
Past exhibitions include: "Trailblazers", Boutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney, Australia, "Park Life", Subliminal Projects, Los Angeles, Art Basel 2007 and "Mail Order Monsters" at Deitch Projects New York, NY, "Those Damn Yanks", The Leonard Street Gallery, London, UK.
He has been featured in LA Record Magazine as well as Juxtapoz.