Modern-day children move through a decidedly un-fairytale-like world with unlikely gangs of friendly wild animals to protect them in this series of paintings so realistic, it takes a moment to realize they’re not photographs. Artist Kevin Peterson creates these incredible scenes in oil paint on panel, highlighting the inner strength it can take to survive in places beset with violence and poverty.
Princesses regally make their way through rubble in abandoned industrial districts with crowned polar bears at their heels, point the way for the fierce lions acting as their champions and saunter down sidewalks with raccoons and foxes. The contrast of wild creatures and worn, neglected urban environments is a startlingly effective one most often utilized for post-apocalyptic scenes, but the addition of the little girls suggests a hope of human resilience.
“My work is about the varied journeys we take through life,” says Peterson in his artist statement. “It’s about growing up and living in a world that is broken. These paintings are about trauma, fear and loneliness and the strength that it takes to survive and thrive. They each contain the contrast of the untainted, young and innocent against a backdrop of a worn, ragged, and defiled world. Support versus restraint, bondage versus freedom, and tension versus slack are all themes that I often visit.”
A look through Peterson’s history of work reveals an interesting progression from fairly straightforward (albeit stunningly realistic) portraits of women and little girls in urban environments to these fairytale scenes. Some of these paintings are also going large-scale as public murals. Check out details and stay on top of Peterson’s current work on Instagram.