Cleon Peterson

About the Artist

Cleon Peterson

Cleon Peterson's art is a powerful vision of the darkest impulses of contemporary society. He moves across a broad range of media, from paintings on canvas to architecturally-scaled murals to bronze sculptures, posters and multiples. Throughout his work he explores structures of power, submission and violence, often depicting archetypal figures locked in battle or engaged in acts of brutality.

Typically, his images are devoid of signifiers of particular issues, identities, or ideologies. Instead, his real subject is the demonization of the Other and the state of constant war – both real and allegorical, physical and virtual – that has come to define the 21st century.

Peterson belongs to a rich tradition of socio-political art, stretching as far back as Greco-Roman black-figure vase painting but also including Romantic painters such as Francisco Goya, Eugène Delacroix, and Théodore Géricault; 20th-century propaganda from Europe, Russia and Latin America; German Expressionists such as Max Beckmann; painters Leon Golub and Nancy Spero; and Hollywood cinema, especially the horror genre.

Early success came when Peterson's work was spotted by Jeffrey Deitch, who included it in his exhibition 'Mail Order Monsters' at Deitch Projects, New York, in 2007, and subsequently showcased it at Art Basel / Miami.

In 2016, he was commissioned to paint a 700-square-meter fresco on the ground directly beneath the Eiffel Tower, Paris. The circular design, titled 'Endless Sleep,' depicted rings of male and female figures dancing around a central embracing couple. In 2017, Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild unveiled the design of 'Maxi Edmond de Rothschild', a tri-hulled racing catamaran, with its sails and livery custom designed by Peterson.

Peterson's work has been included in major exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; at the Musée des Abattoirs, Toulouse; and the Palais de Tokyo, Paris. He has had solo exhibitions at Albertz Benda, New York, Over the Influence, Los Angeles; Agnès b.'s Galerie du Jour, Paris; Pilevneli, Istanbul; and PLUS-ONE, Antwerp. His category-defying work has illustrated features in the New York Times, fiction by George Saunders in the New Yorker, and Penguin Classics' edition of Philip K. Dick's "Man in the High Castle'. In 2020 he released a series of instrumental political posters, disseminated through his website.

Born in Seattle, WA, in 1973, Peterson received his MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Detroit, MI, and BFA in Graphic Design at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

The Devourer | produced by The Big New - Film Productions

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