Michael Petry: The Landscape of the Gods

Michael Petry, HSBC

Temporarily closed – will be extended at a later date

Michael Petry will make a landscape installation of his new acrylic on canvas paintings in the HSBC Space. Each individual painting references the idea of heaven in various world religions. The monochrome works feature a detailed abstracted background that has a direct reference to the religion whose name for heaven is featured as painted text on top of the painted ground. For example, the word ELYSIUM (in green) floats on top of what appear to be green glades of grass, a reference to the ancient Greek idea that heaven for mortals was to be found there.


Petry investigates the notion of heaven in ancient Chinese thought (Tian), Hindu (Vaikuntha), Islamic (Firdaus) and Buddhist (Nirvana) philosophy. Petry is looking at the names of the heavens (and the hells) as a visual investigation into the landscapes of the Gods. The abodes of the Gods are synonymous with all that is beautiful (heaven, paradise) and sometimes, mortals could enter those abodes after death if they met the entry criteria.  The names of these abodes are part of our cultural inheritance, which is every bit as powerful as our genetic inheritance, names which evoke wonder, beauty and awe.

The English word ‘heaven’ can mean both the abode of the Gods and the firmament in which the sun, the moon and the stars are embedded.  Names provoke thoughts, and thoughts provoke actions.  These new works are like the God Janus whose two faces looked in opposite directions, for they too have two faces – one which addresses a word, and the other which addresses the memories and beliefs the word evokes.


The Landscape of the Gods is of course not complete without those who inhabit that terrain.  As part of this series of work Petry has made libations to the Gods in the form of conceptual word portraits. These paintings are intended as offerings to the Gods who are named.  They function as portable shrines – ways of remembering the names of the Gods, and in so remembering, of rekindling their memory and power.

The works will travel next to Cross Lanes Projects, Kendal for the exhibition Conceptual Landscapes.

Duration 11 March 2020 - 15 May 2020
Times by appointment
Cost Free
Venue HSBC Holdings PLC HGHQ
Address Level 41, 8 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5HQ, ,
Contact + 44 (0) 07920 413388 / info@mocalondon.co.uk / www.michaelpetry.com/