Radio Juxtapoz ep 044: Blood, Soil and Soul, A Conversation with Cleon Peterson
There is a controversy that will surround works based on violence and war. For Cleon Peterson, the story of his works are as old as time. The powerful abuse power create false narratives and press upon us a sense of authority that is often violent and sometimes subconscious. Cleon's work balances that explicitness with a sense of timelessness and historical overview. We don't know what eras these atrocities, but they still feel familiar.
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But with his 2018 solo show, Blood & Soil, there was marked change in Cleon's approach: he began to find a literalness that was not in his previous paintings. Channeling the likes of Goya, Washington monuments and Donald Trump emerged. Where Cleon felt like his paintings worked best in metaphor, there was no longer a vagueness to be had. There was something real in front of him, a theater of war happening in America and the world that changed Cleon's work.
And yet throughout our Radio Juxtapoz conversation with the Seattle-born, Los Angeles-based painter, there was a personal uncertainty to create work that was without allegory. We talked at length about this shift, about how the epidemic has brought him back to the studio alone to begin to focus on new directions. We talked about his childhood connection to the amazing painter, Jacob Lawrence, and how Lawrence's narrative works inspired a young Cleon. And, yes, we address Cleon's relationship to street art, and how a controversy with a fellow artist in late 2019 has not been discussed fron his perspective until now. It's a lively and insightful conversation, one with one of contemporary art's most-talked about artists.
The Radio Juxtapoz podcast is hosted by FIFTH WALL TV's Doug Gillen and Juxtapoz editor, Evan Pricco. Episode 044 was recorded via Skype from San Francisco/London/Los Angeles, April 28, 2020. Follow Cleon Peterson at @cleonpeterson