Cleon Peterson

Mr. Sinister

The albertz benda gallery is presents new works by Cleon Peterson. Titled Mr. Sinister, it is the artist's first solo show in New York, on view from March 3 to April 2, 2022. In this exhibition, Peterson will premiere a new series of allegorical paintings that investigate mechanisms of power, fantasy, and morality. Peterson's practice is rooted in his personal experiences with addiction, incarceration, social inequity, and stigmatization. He is known for his distinctive illustrative style in which stark, monochromatic figures appear entangled and attenuated, their bodies caught in moments of rage, brutality, and mercy. His depictions of violence are deployed as visual metaphors through which to examine conformity and submission in both the individual and society at large.

These new acrylic paintings showcase an evocative symbolism rendered in Peterson's signature palette of red, grey, white, and black. Moving fluidly across Peterson's metaphorical dreamscapes, a ghostly clown and a figure in an authoritarian uniform personify concepts of immorality and morality, history and power. Their clashes and embraces, left open to interpretation, challenge facile binaries of right and wrong, black and white.

Strikingly austere yet expressive, these paintings mark a dramatic new chapter of Peterson's career and a deepening of his ongoing practice. Addressing violence in less explicit terms than his previous work, this exhibition presents a dystopic visual vocabulary with which to reexamine our disturbing current age.