Through an essential palette reduced to black & white or red & black tones, Cleon Peterson depicts acts of violence and abuse iterated to the point of becoming almost pattern-like. His most famous works are bidimensional paintings on large scale walls which include stylized characters playing the role of victims and aggressors. Composed in a very dynamic fashion, these figures have an “out of time” feeling with possible style allusions to cave paintings or even bicolor pottery from ancient Greece.
This selection includes also a different research with axonometric drawings set in minimal interiors or in a run-down neighborhood. The scenes become a collection of samples of crimes and abuses with the lawless city as a set for the actions. As the artist stated in an interview:
“The cityscapes are based in true, personal stories of drug addiction and life in the streets of New York City in the 1990s. Living through those experiences made me interested in ideas about the Other in our society – ideas of the deviant, the outcast, and the power plays that happen within that world. Morals and ethics are flexible in a place like that, a hell on earth. It’s incremental when you’re in there. No one belongs there. Compromising your morals doesn’t happen all in one day!”
All images © Cleon Peterson
Further reading: kcet