American, b. 1973, Seattle, Washington, based in Los Angeles, California
With an aesthetic rooted in graphic design and a style reminiscent of Greco-Roman vases, Cleon Peterson’s art depicts a world in which deviance is the norm and violence, sex, and drugs bring a hollow pleasure. A former drug addict who initially struggled to recover, Peterson does not rely on symbolism or allusion, as many other artists do; instead he depicts a chaotic and chilling reality—police brutality, stabbings, and strangulation. Influenced by Leon Golub, Paul McCarthy, and Mike Kelley, Peterson portrays a world in which hostility and violence are rendered senseless and without context.