Peterson’s world of depravity does not simply crash and burn: it reverses polarity, inherited not by the meek but by the vengeful and merciless. Whatever days have ended, they have been succeeded by a new age of barbarism, with clear winners and losers.
Peterson depicts life as war between displaced individuals in a dystopian world. Acts of brutality, abuse and perversion serve as rituals of power, revealing narcissistic indulgences in violence, sex, religion and drugs. In exploring the tension between the individual consciousness and unconscious psyche, Peterson’s paintings bring to light the resulting possibilities when varying moral schemes are personified.
As the victims live to suffer, their tormenters seem to revel in that persistence. In fact, the tormenters, which Peterson calls the “shadows,” appear to derive their strength from their subversion. Over the years that he has depicted the shadows in his work, Peterson has often cited their genesis in the writings of Jung and Nietzsche, both of whom described the tension between the parts of the self that the psyche expresses and those it represses. In Newtonian fashion, the force of repression is met with an equal force of reprisal. In End of Days, then, the viewer is left to question what precipitating crimes could merit such grisly punishment.