Cleon Peterson’s “Cruelty”: A Dark and Haunting Mirror of Societal Distress and Violence

"Cruauté" de Cleon Peterson : Un Miroir Sombre et Envoûtant de la Détresse Sociétale et de la Violence

Immerse yourself in the dark and disturbing world of Cleon Peterson , an artist based in Los Angeles, with his latest exhibition, “Cruelty”. This work, presented by Hong Kong-based gallery Over The Influence, explores the disturbing reflections of societal distress and violence in our time. “Cruelty” aims to captivate audiences through dark visions of modern power dynamics that resonate universally.

A Mirror of Reality:

Peterson does not seek to reinvent history, but rather to confront it. It highlights aspects such as the plight of society and encourages viewers to confront some of the ugliest facets of human nature, past and present. In this new exhibition, Peterson presents a world that evokes a dark atmospheric mood, distinguished by a different intensity from some of his previous works.

A New Depth:

Thanks to a palette of grays and the innovative use of sfumato, a subtle gradient technique, Peterson's paintings possess a unique depth that blurs the line between reality and dream. Additionally, most of the works feature guns, bullet casings, and skulls – elements that did not appear frequently in his past works and which contribute to what can be perceived as a nightmarish hallucination.

A Perverse Mixture:

If mixing the muscular urgency of a futurist like Umberto Boccioni with the abject absurdity of artists like Otto Dix or George Grosz seems perverse, it is important to understand that Peterson's subject is the dynamics of conflict itself . Futurism was born from a feeling of powerlessness and humiliation, which caused its followers to turn to authoritarianism and violence.

A Reflection on the Past and the Future:

In this new body of work, Peterson questions how subjective perceptions of the past and future can be manipulated to justify actions in the present. Through his protagonist, Peterson shares how nostalgia for the past, aspirational hopes, critical reflections, anxious fears, and illusory hope for lost or future utopias can lead to acts of barbarity.

A World of Chaos:

"In this world, chaos and confusion become the norm; there is no hope for a better future, no possibility of redemption or salvation, and no space for individual freedom. The only way to to follow is to be conscripted to serve with hatred, division and punishment in a brutal struggle for survival that will ultimately destroy us all,” shares the artist.

A Message from the Artist:

Peterson reminds us that we have entered a new era of global crisis. Modern fear, despair and existential anxiety have become commonplace and relegated to the unconscious. The individual walks the streets with a sense of alienation and a sense that society, co-opted by media technology, politics, and an undercurrent of hatred and confusion, is falling apart. The ideas that have been sold to us for so long, that technology and human compassion will save us from our dark nature, are looking more and more like magical thinking.

A New Crisis:

Human ethics and our shared knowledge of historical truth seem to be fading, replaced by the all-powerful idea that everything is "just a deal" and we must take what we can get now. In the name of power, politicians summon mobs to violence and demand our outrage and attention with promises to return us to a past that never was or promise us futures that will never be. At the same time, capitalists offer us redemption and meaning through the last thing that connects us all, consumption.

A First in Paris:

The exhibition marks Peterson's first collaboration with the gallery at its Paris location and his fourth with Over The Influence on a global scale. Interested spectators will be able to discover the works until July 29.

Address :

Over the Influence 2 Rue des Saussaies 75008 Paris, France

For more art, check out the nostalgic works of Adam Handler in the “For You” exhibition curated by VILLAZAN.

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