Untitled (Horse), 2016
Acrylic on Canvas
40h x 30w in
Library Street Collective is pleased to announce POISON a solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Cleon Peterson. The Cranbrook Academy of Art alumnus, globally recognized for his graphic monochromatic works depicting merciless violence, will, for the first time, bring his mayhem-filled narratives to Detroit. The show features a collection of over twenty acrylic-on-canvas pieces as well as porcelain sculptures.
“This show is about revenge, which is a current of poison running through our culture and other cultures around the world,” Peterson says. “It’s often a motivation for war and justification for punishment; it’s a social impulse that is destructive and easy to become complicit in.” While his characters have uncivilized, archaic forms, the concepts behind the artist’s portrayals are backed by Peterson’s historic and contemporary social commentary. “Everything I do is a reaction to the world we live in,” Peterson says. “I’m always thinking about what’s going on inside and outside of our country, between race, power and religion. I think there are huge problems in the world that have been going on forever and people have good reasons to be angry and seek change.”
Unbridled by the parameters surrounding the need to create safe, pleasant, even colorful art, Peterson uses his signature limited palette to convey emotion and continues to push boundaries with “black and white” imagery in both a literal and figurative sense. The natural canvas next to the deep black paint creates a lush surface and stark contrast. All of the Poison canvas works are aesthetically flat and clean yet blatantly evoke depth and disorder in a way that may be uncomfortable for those who shy away from the raw and dark realities of mankind. “I don’t let my own personal fear dictate what I express artistically,” Peterson says. “I try to move beyond that and become a conduit for real and honest thoughts.” As for the sculptures, Peterson considers them to be an extension of his paintings dimensionally, a way for his drawings to live in a space we live in.