Art Chat with Cleon Peterson
Known for his depictions of graphic violence and depravity, Cleon Peterson's dystopian rips the lid off accepted social decorum to unleash aggression and other pent-up impulses. With his latest exhibit at Joshua Liner Gallery titled White Flag, Cleon continues upon his exploration of the tension between the conscious ego and and repressed 'shadow' thereby forcing us to decide where our sympathies lie. Here Cleon chats about his current show, life long struggles, and Kurt Vonnegut.
White Flag suggests a surrender is at play in your latest works. Who's surrendering and what can viewers expect to see in your current show?
Its a generalized surrender to the idea that there will be no resolution or end.
The Shadows (a Jungian reference to repressed weaknesses in the unconscious mind) are absent from previous works, yet almost omnipresent in your most recent exhibits. Was their presence motivated by your exposure to Carl Jung, or by personal factors in your own life that coincided with his teachings?
The Jungian attributes I've noticed in my own life. I've had ups and downs and struggles in my life that have taken years to come to terms with. Addiction, jail, labels, etc. There's a constant struggle in life to make sense of all this stuff and turn the past into something positive today.
Where do your sympathies lie? With the Shadows or the Aristocrats?
I sympathize with the shadows but today's aristocrats will always become tomorrows shadow.
If you could only hang one painting from art history in your home or studio, what would it be and why?
Kurt Vonnegut's ass hole star. It's simple and straight forward, a perfect gesture.
Tell us something about yourself we wouldn't necessarily know.
While we were working on this latest show my assistant and friend Charlie Marks died. He was a great guy with a big heart. I'll always miss him and think good thoughts about him.
If I were to spend the day with Cleon, what could I expect?
We'd either be painting or chasing my unruly kids around.
Thanks Cleon! For more info about Cleon or to view his latest works, visit
All photos courtesy of the artist.