Artist Statement

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.

Where one might sense that 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.

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.”

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Inaugural Group Show at the New Gallery! (March 27, 2013)
Summer Group Exhibition Opening Photos (August 7, 2012)
Cleon peterson ‘White Flag’ / Tat Ito ‘Memento Mori’ Opening Photos (May 26, 2011)
Summer Group Exhibition Opening Photos (August 17, 2010)
SCOPE Miami 2009 (December 15, 2009)
Summer Group Exhibition opening reception (August 19, 2009)