“My work is a personal response to memory and experiences associated with spending a large part of my life immersed in rural environments. My paintings are not an attempt to elevate, idealise or romanticise the rural, but rather a means of exploring the notion of what it is, and what it means to be a ‘local’, and developing a visual language to convey this. New Zealand has a rich and varied history of landscape painting yet I feel little has been attempted within the visual arts to explore issues of localised rural experience and landscape. Historically New Zealand landscape painting depicts ‘visiting the landscape’ with all its implied transferral of ‘Urban Experience’, - a romanticising experience.”
In the Field Study series of works the animals have become the object of intense scrutiny. The background has been removed, “with the object becoming a landscape within themselves.”
While the cattle paintings appear deceptively simple, “the images are actually built up through a sequence of processes using Oils, Acrylic, Graphite & Ink.
Mike Petre was born in Piopio, New Zealand, in 1964. He gained a Bachelor of Agriculture (Management) from Massey University, in 1986. He later pursued further study, graduating with a Bachelor of Design from Carrington Polytechnic in 1994. Following his graduation from design studies, Petre was a founding member of Sturdee Studios and in 1998 of Indicator Studios. He began exhibiting via the studios in 1995 and since 1997 has exhibited in dealer galleries in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch & Dunedin. As well as in public galleries including Auckland, Waikato and Christchurch. Since 2000 Mike has had 18 solo shows and contributed to over 60 group shows throughout NZ. His works feature in numerous collections in NZ and overseas. He has been a finalist in Waikato & Auckland Art Awards he has entered (1998, 1999 and 2001) and in 2001 was featured in episode four of Television New Zealand’s The Big Art Trip. Other articles and reviews have appeared in Art News, Otago Daily Times, Sunday Star Times, NZ Herald, Metro, Canvas, BMW Magazine, Kiora Magazine and TVNZ Homefront.
In 2012 Mike was responsible for designing the Vivian Gallery in Matakana. As well as heavy involvement in its inception, Mike offered ongoing technical assistance and curatorial roles, along with exhibiting. Since then Mike has designed homes and environs for fellow artists; Virginia Leonard and Olly King, Chef Ben Bayley, amongst others. In 2016 Mike was involved in the Design of the Sawmill Brewery in Matakana, where he continues to curate the artwork on display within, something he has also done for Ahi restaurant in Auckland. Mike continues to work across multiple creative industries including set design, painting, architectural & Landscaping Design and fine arts.