Street Art

Cleon Peterson Paints the First Mural ever at the Eiffel Tower in Paris

September 29, 2016

In one of the most dramatic murals we have seen this year, Cleon Peterson has painted underneath the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris this past week in a project curated by Hugo Vitrani with Palais de Tokyo. 

The mural was painted in conjunction with Nuit Blanche, which ItsNiceThat reports is "an all-night art festival that takes place from 7pm – 7am at various venues across Paris on the first Saturday in October every year, this year on 1 October."

We asked Vitrani about his selection of Peterson for the project, and he told us, "When we had the opportunity to work on the Tower, the choice of Cleon was self evident. He is one of the rare artists who can work on a monumental surface like that, without be submerged by the huge architecture around. The Nuit Blanche is inspired by an important book, Le Songe de Poliphile, written during the 16è century which tells a quest for love, which is actually an introspective quest, with its good and bad times. This story of a hero which came across hard and joyful experiences, sometimes in landscapes of ruin, could be the one of Cleon. And his work, always epic, always between between current and past, contemporary and classic references, matched perfectly with this tale, known also for its engravings, source of inspiration for this painting made by Cleon. The Nuit Blanche path is divided into chapters, and the Eiffel Tower is located at the moment of a love union between Polia and Poliphile. It's this specific instant that Cleon painted. So there was no question of violence. But this dance, like a shamanic ritual, could also be seen as a magic dance, or a death dance. The black and white colors and the title are also not that clear and optimist : Endless Sleep. The painting can be seen as a joyful time, but it has also a sad side. Like Cleon always says, 'without bad there is no good. Without misfortune, there is no happiness.' The work, in a subtle way, has these two aspects."

We asked Cleon about the project, and the attention the work would get being at one of the world's most visited sites, and he said, "The mural lives under the Eiffel Tower if your just looking at it without knowledge of the myth it may appear saccharine. But the myth combined with the location creates a different meaning. The tower being such an iconic symbol, a site where people from all over the world come together, from international tourists to immigrants outside the gates selling remembrances, gives me the opportunity to tell a broader story than that of just the search for romantic love. The location morphs the story into one about people of the world confronting our modern dilemma of division and the search for social and political union. The myth shows dualism, male to female, happy to sad, love to unloved, familiar to otherness. These themes function in our times all either bringing us together through our differences or forcing us further apart. The title 'Endless Sleep' refers to the state were in today, the in between, a time where we have the ability to wake up, initiate change and move beyond our current divisions or remain asleep and in this permanent state of friction."