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End of Days by Cleon Peterson

February 22, 2014
Ana Bambic Kostov is an art historian with passion for contemporary art.

West Hollywood urban art gallery, New Image Art opens a new exhibition by Cleon Peterson TODAY. The show is titled suggestively – End of Days, and it brings new renderings of pessimistic thematics Peterson often employs in his art.

His latest body of work brings a clear apocalyptic vision of the world going down in chaos and violence, which seem to overwhelm the entire civilization unapologetically. The dominating force in the form of Peterson’s emblematic “shadows” massacres every last shred of humanity and order, imposing a new era of anarchy and savagery. The victorious darkness appears to want only the world, leaving no witnesses, striping everyone of any leftover optimism.

End of Days will be on view at New Image Art Gallery till March 22, 2014.

New Image Art Gallery
Cleon Peterson – End of Days

Apocalypse by Cleon

Although the victims are more often [still] alive than dead, this only suggests the prolongation of their suffering. General horror seems to make the winning barbarians relish, as they are continuously portrayed without any sign of remorse.

The seriousness of the subject Cleon Peterson draws from the idea of perpetual struggle with self, inspired by writings of Jung and Nietzsche. In their psychological and philosophical texts, the artist found the model for the archetypal evil – the shadows that gain their strength from undermining all of the good. They are depictions of our inner nemesis, the dark corner of our souls, packed with frustrations, anger and resentment, only waiting to be unleashed by persistent and irritating foreign entities. If the outbursts of brutality of the End of Days are viewed through the action-reaction prism, the observer is stricken with the idea of supposed repression that may have provoked such an anger.

New Image Art Gallery
Cleon Peterson – End of Days

Cleon Peterson places these violent situations into neutral or urban setting, thus managing the impact of the merciless act choosing to color it with deeper social commentary. The vicious shadows are equally enraged in both worlds, but when dressed as [police] officers, they do evoke an associative array of multiple troubled political situations of our civilization. Victimized crowd owns no power, nor the possibility of escape from this gruesome nightmare. Just as the people are captured in their societies, Peterson’s fatalities are tormented to the extent of their strength.

What immediately attracts attention is the style in which these intriguing pieces are executed. The figures do follow the general expression of Cleon Peterson, but here they are arranged in evocative narratives, resembling friezes of red figure or black figure vase painting of ancient Greece. There something classic in the posture of characters, something ornamental and objective, which allows these works to be described as contemporary demonmachy, with a tragic ending. Alarming as they are, the works of Cleon Peterson are impersonal and witnessing, describing the role of the artist as a chronicler of the last days of humanity.

Cleon Peterson promises no rapture, no salvation nor any sort of a peaceful ending. He suggests the victory of dark, or at best, he may be only posting a disturbing warning for the remaining conscious humans to see.

New Image Art Gallery
Cleon Peterson – End of Days
New Image Art Gallery
Cleon Peterson – End of Days