The first mural ever painted underneath the Eiffel tower has been completed, and American artist Cleon Peterson lived to tell the tale. His Endless Sleep floor painting resides in the 500-square-meter area in between the tower’s four-column foundation. He led a crew of ten painters through a total 300 hours of work, laying down an estimated 53 gallons of paint. No surprise, it's the largest mural Peterson has ever painted.
The structure of the mural is simple: at its center, two individuals are locked in a kissing embrace. Around them are two circles of dancing nymphs dressed in skirts, one black, one white. They hold hands and their limbs interlock with the others like a zipper.
The mural is a scene taken from the Italian novel Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, written by Francesco Colonna in 1499. The two figures in the middle of painting represent the book’s protagonists, Poliphili and Polia.
Peterson paints flat, broad shouldered characters in a style similar to the vase paintings of classical Greek and Roman antiquity. At ground level, the mural looks like a composite of black-and-white lines forming curvaceous abstract shapes. As you climb the tower, however, the painting reveals itself. It is particularly well-framed from the viewing deck on the first floor.
The new mural coincides with Nuit Blanche, an annual, all-night arts festival that's held at various venues throughout Paris. Peterson tells The Creators Project it was an honor to work on a piece that plays with such an iconic symbol of France. He believes the mural’s location allowed it to tell a broader story: “A story 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.” He believes these themes function in modern day times, either “bringing us together through our differences or forcing us further apart.” The title of the piece refers to the state of humanity today—“the in between, a time where we have the ability to wake up, initiate change and move beyond our current divisions."