Preview: Cleon Peterson Portrays a Hopeless World in His "End of Days" Exhibition

His upcoming show of violent scenes will hit a nerve for some viewers.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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There's not one shred of hope in the world Los Angeles-based artist Cleon Peterson has envisioned and depicted in his graphic paintings. There is only the ruthless, who survive, and the weak, who perish at the hands of those in power. While it may be easy for people to turn a blind eye to the violence they see in the media, Peterson's "End of Days" exhibition at New Image Art Gallery forces viewers to face these scenes of brutality and suffering.

Perhaps the most unsettling thing about Peterson's works are that they portray images of violence in media res, when the victims have not yet died completely. Instead, they are left quite literally in the hands of their tormentors, who Peterson refers to as "the shadows." While their victims cower in fear, the shadows look rather composed and appear to revel in their killings. Inspired by Jung and Nietzsche, who studied the tension between human expression and repression, Peterson's paintings force viewers to confront themselves—is it horror or release, compassion or a twisted sort of pleasure they feel when looking at such violent images?

While many of his "End of Days" paintings depict a dystopic world devoid of any order, Peterson also portrays many of the shadows as uniformed enforcers in his other pieces. Perhaps he does so to blur the line between law enforcers and law breakers.

Cleon Peterson's "End of Days" exhibition opens at New Image Art Gallery on Feb. 22 and will be on display until March 22.

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