The unsettling illustrations of Eric Petersen

A master of color and perspective, depicting simple environments and using unnaturally vibrant tones, unexpected juxtapositions and dynamic arrangements of elements, Eric Petersen highlights in his video game and 40s vintage comics inspired illustrations the absence of humanity.

The striking empty gaze of his characters shows no empathy towards the other, ruthlessly squashing any possible opponent in order to move up the illusive social ladder, towards further development of unknown plans achieving the goal by solving the problem – through the permanent elimination or temporary exclusion of any human obstacle, no matter the means.

This constant sense of competition is expressed through references to sports, where in this case team spirit is for the weak, and the human like characters are rather engaged in a cold race to feed the ego or fighting to escape claustrophobic situations, to finally praise those standing up on the fallen bodies. Emotion is, therefore, a mark of the loser, power being the sole virtue, with the winner taking the applause, as deserved. All is meticulously calculated, mechanically evolving by following only one rule – survival of the fittest.

But are we aware of such moments being rather present, closer to experience than mere surreal scenery? The intention of Eric Petersen is “to set up a voyeuristic feeling and create an unsettling mood. (…) I aim to create a sense of ambiguity and allow the viewer to imagine their own narrative.” The arresting contrast between form and feeling, like a game of chance, yet played for high stakes, has the visual strength to connect the viewer with the work, to startle and awake, as if we are amazed or horrified by our own reflection in the mirror.

Eric Petersen - I Know That

‘I Know That’

EricPetersen - Problem Solving

‘Problem Solving’

EricPetersen - Moving Up

‘Moving Up’

EricPetersen - Further Development

‘Further Development’

EricPetersen - Good Fortune

‘Good Fortune’

EricPetersen - Obviously


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All images © Eric Petersen

View more on his website, on Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest. Represented internationally by Anna Goodson Illustration Agency.