“The famous French Canadian painter Riopelle said that painting is a disease and that once you catch it you have it for life. I caught it. I have been living breathing and eating art for many years. Being in the process of making art is very much feeling one’s aliveness, insignificance, bravado, greatness, feebleness. I am a designer, a colourist, and a composer of ideas. I am not bound by realism. I like to give myself the freedom to think, probe, explore, play, as the process permits, and create the artifacts of the process. I am intrigued by both the narrative and abstract nature of painting. Artists I admire include Breughel, Picasso, Ingres, Fra Angelico, and Stanley Spencer, who are all formal composers in the visual realm. And the Master of the St. Bartholomew Altarpiece, to die for!
Motivation to create an image can come from any number of things, including art, literature, the media, politics, philosophy, religious studies, psychology, business world, family life, interpersonal relationships, feelings, by observing and involvement. Being a non-linear thinker, with a variety of personal circumstances, experiences, influences, and mess-ups to draw from really helps! The work is both subjective and based in reality, a melding of the inner and outer world. There are so many things to ponder and wrap one’s head around… Art is a reflection of life: growing and dying, serious, funny, absurd, joyous, hard, paradoxical, sensuous, scary, communal, divisive… all things at once, and ever-changing. Each painting is a snapshot of the mind in time.”
Michael Abraham – 2012
Michael Abraham on Urban Rush television show July 4th, 2005 (Not great video quality, but good interview.)
Opening night of ‘Waterworks’ at Gallery Jones in Vancouver, 2008.
Interview with Hot Art Wet City, with a thank you to Chris at Bentzen.ca.
Described as “hip” in Star magazine, Michael Abraham’s personal coups have included sold-out shows and shining reviews in the Vancouver Sun. He has had numerous one-man exhibitions, including at the Jan Baum Gallery in Los Angeles, and Gallery Jones in Vancouver. He was selected to showcase “Canada’s artistic genius, representing the best of the contemporary scene” at the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (Apec’97). Abraham has been interviewed by the CBC and Vancouver Television. His paintings have been on Common Ground magazine, Vancouver Symphony’s Allegro, on the promotional material for the Vancouver Opera Society’s 2008- 2009 season, as well as glimpsed at in InStyle magazine. Abraham’s original oil paintings are in collections from London to Singapore, and Philadelphia to Amsterdam, with work in the Vancouver Art Gallery, The Rockford Art Museum in Illinois, and various corporate, public, and private collections. There are also two paintings in the collection of Courtney Cox and David Arquette.
Born in Montreal (1965), Michael Abraham began his studies in life drawing and compositional painting at the Ontario College of Art (1984-88). In his fourth year of OCA, he was awarded the top figure drawing award. He was teacher’s assistant during a year of postgraduate education in Florence, Italy (1990-91). At that time his studio was located in Piazza San Marco, in Florence, with a wealth of art and history to study and enjoy! Abraham has been painting full time since 1992. He travels to see art often, including two months spent in New York in the fall of 2005. Other than the odd crisis of mind, he enjoys music, food, fitness, piano playing, weekly figure drawing, nature, and a happy family life. He currently lives and creates in Vancouver, British Columbia.
ARTICLES, REVIEWS, WRITING…
If you are interested in articles, writing and reviews with headings like
“Painter arrests with beyond-Rockwellian fancy…” or
“Social Criticism Expressed Like a Platter Of Gum Drops”, click on the words button.
1990-91 – Ontario College of Art (O.C.A), fifth-year Post Graduate studies, Florence, Italy, Honours, and Teacher’s assistant.
1984-88 – Ontario College of Art – Fine Arts graduate. Toronto
2013 – Federation of Canadian Artists. Selected by the FCA Board of Governors to receive the status of SFCA. (Senior Signature Status)
2010 and 2011 – Steveston Grandprix of Art”, Steveston, BC, 2nd place award winner. People’s choice award.
1992 – Honorable mention “Images and Objects”, B.C. Festival of the Arts.
1988 – Eric Freifeld Award for figure Draughtsmanship, top drawing award for 4th-year studies, O.C.A. Fine Arts.
1988 – O.C.A. Fine Arts Department representative, Governor-General Juried Medals Competition. 1988 – Honorary membership – Arts and Letters Club, Toronto.
2018 -‘Luminaries’, Eight paintings, 3 bronzes: at Gallery 110, Seattle.
2016 -‘Naughty and Nice’, new oil paintings and bronzes, Bugera Matheson Gallery, October, Edmonton.
2016 -‘Naughty’, A survey of oil paintings and bronzes, Gallery 110, October, Seattle.
2014 -‘The Lure’, new oil paintings and bronzes, Gallery Jones, Vancouver.
2013 -‘Apologues’, Art Gallery at Evergreen, Evergreen Cultural Centre, retrospective, Coquitlam, BC.
2011 -‘Inspiritus’, Gallery Jones, Vancouver.
2010 -‘All That Glitters’, Gallery Jones, Vancouver.
2008 -‘Water Works’, (including Vancouver Opera commission), Gallery Jones, Vancouver.
2007 -‘Arena’, oils on linen, Jan Baum Gallery Los Angeles.
2007 -‘Not Bound By Realism’, oils on linen, Richmond Art Gallery at City Hall, Richmond, BC.
2006 -‘Bull Works’, oils on linen, soapstone sculptures, Gallery Jones, Vancouver
2005 -‘The Other Side’, oils on linen/canvas, gouache on paper, Gallery Jones, 2003 – Power Play, oils on linen, Simon Patrich Gallery, Vancouver.
2001 – ‘Play’, oils on linen, Simon Patrich Gallery, Vancouver.
1999 – ‘Transience’, oils on linen, Simon Patrich Gallery, Vancouver.
1998 – ‘push pull PoP’, oils on linen, Simon Patrich Gallery, Vancouver.
1996 – ‘oPtic-Mystic’, oils on linen, drawings, Simon Patrich Gallery, Vancouver.
1995 – ‘In Light of Things’, oils on linen and original prints, Simon Patrich Gallery.
1994 – ‘New Works’, oils on canvas, Unitarian Church, Vancouver.
1993 – ‘The Promise’, oils on canvas, Simon Patrich Gallery, Vancouver.
1992 – ‘Reverence and Reverie’, Simon Patrich Gallery, Vancouver.
– Rockford Museum of Art, Rockford, Illinois, USA.
– Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada.
– Courtney Cox and David Arquette, actors, Los Angeles.
– Surrey Art Gallery, British Columbia, Canada.
– Vancouver General Hospital Collection.
– St George’s Senior Boys School Collection, Vancouver, BC.
– Gary Numan, pop star, Los Angeles.
– Manuel Bernaschek, Showcase Pianos/Fazioli, Richmond, BC.
– Dr. Alan Goldstein, New York.
– Magenta Productions, Monique Prudhomme, (Academy Award nominee 2010).
– Michael O’Brien, Vancouver Art Gallery Board of Directors, and of Michael O’Brian Family Foundation.
– Craig D. Friedman MD, Philadelphia, PA. Otolaryngologist.
– John Evans, Hotelier, Opus Hotel, Vancouver.
- Chris Dikeakos, Architect, Vancouver.
- Haebler Construction, Vancouver.
– Eva Harrison, Singapore.
– Dr. S. Scott Mayers, Los Angeles.
– Telus Mobility Corporate Collection, Vancouver, BC.
– Koen and Annelies Lyppens, Holland.
– Joy Language School, Vancouver BC.
– Tyron Leitso, actor, Vancouver/Los Angeles.
– Fraser Mccoll, developer, HRT International, Victoria, BC.
– Robert Munoz and James Razzetti, New York City, New York.
– Lee Hsu, and Shamim Din, Interiors By di’Zai’n, Hong Kong.
– Axemen Resource Capital Ltd., Cal Everett, Vancouver, BC.
– Ardenton Capital Corporation, and James Livingstone, Vancouver, BC.
– Raj Samtani, Harper Grey LLP.
– Roger Walsh, Vancouver BC.
2020 – ‘Where We Have Been’, Surrey Art Gallery, Sept.19 – Dec.13.
2020 – Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair at Gallery 110, Seattle, USA.
2019 – ‘We Were the Places That We Wanted to Go’ with ‘Phantoms in the Front Yard’ – Artist Collective, Gallery 110 Seattle, USA, October 2019.
2019 – Deer Lake Gallery – Burnaby Arts Council Group Show, ‘Phantoms in the Front Yard’ – Artist Collective. Burnaby, BC, Canada.
2018 – Vancouver Mural Festival as ‘Phantoms in the Front Yard’ – Artist Collective (24 x 80-foot mural – location – 7th and Ontario Street, Vancouver, BC.
2017 – Ian Tan Gallery group show, Vancouver, BC.
2017 – ‘Portraits of the Punishable’, with Phantoms in the Front Yard Artists Collective, at Hot Art Wet City, Vancouver.
2017 – ‘All the Best’, Gallery 110, gallery artists’ group show, Seattle.
2016 – Gallery 110 Summer exhibition, Seattle, Washington, USA.
2016 – PUSH – Art Exhibit, Virginia S. Hislop Gallery at Heritage University, Toppenish, Washington, USA.
2015 – ‘Over the Counter Culture’, with Phantoms in the Front Yard Artists Collective, Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art.
2015 – ‘Views from the Southbank I: Histories, Memories, Myths’, Surrey Art Gallery.
2015 – ‘NEW@RAM”, recent acquisitions to the Rockford Art Museum Permanent Collection, FEB 28-OCT 26, 2014.
2015 and 2013 – Hong Kong, Art Fair, Represented by Gallery Jones.
2104 – Shed, HSBC Pendulum Gallery, Phantoms in the Front Yard group show, Vancouver.
2013 – Heartfelt, group print show, Vancouver Print Room.
2013 – LA ART SHOW, Los Angeles Convention Center, LA, USA.
2012 – Singapore – Art Fair, Represented by Gallery Jones.
2010 – Unicef / Unite with Art, Unite for Children, Unite Against Aids, Vancouver, 2008, and 2010.
2007 – Figures and Forces, Jan Baum Gallery, Los Angeles.
2006 – Zeigt in Sommer, Galerie Art Mayence, Mainz, Germany.
2004 – International Art Expo New York, Imogene Editions, Jacob Javitz Center, New York.
1997 – The Canadian Collection at APEC ‘97, Host: Government of Canada, Vancouver.
1995 – Canadians in the 1990s, Nancy Poole’s Studio, Toronto.
1992 – Images and Objects X, Assembly of B.C. Arts Councils, B.C. Festival of the Arts.
VARIOUS PROJECTS AND AFFILIATIONS
– Federation of Canadian Artists, ’30 Shades of Grey’, Tonal workshop as ‘master’ instructor, February 2019.
– Phantoms in the Front yard, figurative artists collective, Member since 2011, included in 9 group shows.
– Vancouver Mural Festival participant with ‘Phantoms In The Front Yard’ 2018.
– Occasional Workshops, Paint Nights, at Lily yuan Art Studio, Richmond BC. 2017.
– Instructed Children’s classes at Rand L school in Richmond, 2017.
– Teaching private painting classes in studio 2015 to 2020.
– Hosted and organized ‘Ladner Figure Drawing Group’ events, featuring burlesque models. 2017
– Theatre Set design and painting for Children’s Theatre of Richmond Association 2018 and 2019
– Coastal Sound Music Academy, honorary patron, 2012 onward.
– Artists in the Village Society, Former Board member, Delta BC. 2015-2016.
– ‘Guest expert’ for CBC’s Art Crash Gallery, TV Show, October 2015.
– Vancouver Opera Society, Paintings for Salome, Onegin, Rigoletto, and Carmen, Commission. 2009.
– Guest Figure Drawing instructor at St. Georges School, 5- 10 days annually since 2006.
– Adjudicator for Painters on the Edge, Federation of Canadian Artists, July 2011.
– Adjudicator for Oil and Water show, South Delta Artists’ Guild, June 2011.
– Adjudicator for Delta Arts Council, 2004, 2002 and 1999.
– Orcas in the City, painted whale, BC Lions Society, 2004.
– Vancouver Art Gallery fundraising, paintings donated periodically since 1994.
– Diamond Centre for Living, Art For Life, featured artist: poster/catalogue cover/invitations in 1999, and frequent annual donations since 1995.
– Splash, Arts Umbrella, fundraising, 1995-2001.
– Guest speaker, Arts week Richmond Art Gallery 2003, 2006.
– MADDfest, Arts adjudicator, Delta Arts Council, 2004, 2002, and 1999.
– Meningitis Research Foundation and B.C. Children’s Hospital, donation of prints, 2002.
– Main Dance, fundraising, donated painted “Love Seat”, Hong Kong Bank, Vancouver, 1994.
– Sexuality Show, curator, Pitt Gallery, Vancouver, 1993.
– Guest speaker, Art for life Arts week Richmond art gallery 2003, 2006.
– Lecturer, ‘Arts Week’, St George’s Private Boys School, Vancouver, 2002, 2004, 2005.
– Lecturer, University of Victoria Continuing Education and School District No. 43, Coquitlam, BC, 2002.
– Interview, VTV evening news, Vancouver BC, Canada, 1998.
– Interview in French for RDI, francophone division, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1995.
-Mia, Johnson, “Michael Abraham: Apologues”, Preview Magazine, and online Preview Magazine. Summer issue, 2013.
-Elana Wolff, Startled Night, published by Guernica Press, book cover image, Toronto, Canada, 2012.
-Art News, full-page advertisement, October 2011.
-Matthew Hoekstra, “Freedom from the real”, review, photos, South Delta Leader, March 2, 2007.
-Yvonne Zacharias, “Children of tiny port Simpson pack a big punch”, photo Vancouver Sun, Oct. 2006.
-Dave Willis, “Return from New York prompts creation…”, review/photo, Delta Optimist, Oct. 11, 2006.
-Lloyd Dykk, “Paintings Capture a Magic Realism,” review/photos, The Vancouver Sun, May 28th, 2005.
-Vancouver Province, Gallery Listings, caption/photo, May 12th, 2005.
-John Mackie, Sarah Reeder; Vancouver: The Unknown City. ISBN 1551521474, pg.108, 1994.
-John Bryant, ”This Reef’s Viewers Stay Dry,” review, The Times Colonist, Victoria, Feb.8th 2004.
-Michael Harris, “Social Criticism Expressed Like a Platter of Gumdrops,” review/photo, Vancouver Sun, May 22nd, 2003.
-Michael Abraham, Sergio Patrich; Power Play: The Paintings of Michael Abraham, 2001-2003, ISBN 0-9732937-0-5, 2003.
-‘Star People’, article, Star (the #1 celebrity newsmagazine), August 5th, 2003.
-Malcolm Parry, ‘Town Talk’, caption/photo, The Vancouver Sun, June 14th, 2003.
-Michael Scott, “Painter arrests with beyond Rockwellian fancy,” review/photo, The Vancouver Sun, May 10th, 2001.
-Common Ground, cover/article, May 2001.
-‘Around Town’, text/photo, Vancouver Magazine, summer 2001.
-Garden’s Edge by Universal Freak, compact disc cover, Spark Records Inc., 2001.
-Adidas Vancouver International Marathon, posters/promotional material, May 6th, 2001.
-Common Ground, cover/article, April 2000.
-The Optimist, article/photo, Delta BC, 2000.
-Art for Life, signature artist; poster, catalogue cover, and invitation cards, October 28th, 1999.
-Arts page header, text/photo, The Vancouver Sun, 1999.
-Illuminaires, poster image, Public Dreams Society, Vancouver BC, summer 1999.
-Modern Painters, advertisement, UK, 1999.
-Canadian Art, advertisement, 1999.
-Arts page header, text/photo, The Vancouver Sun, 1998.
-The Canadian Collection at APEC ’97, ISBN 0-662-63236-2, Pg.15, November 1997.
-X-tra West, text/photo, October 16th, 1997.
-Michael Scott, “Optic Visions,” review/photo, The Vancouver Sun, October 16th, 1996.
-Common Ground, cover/article, May 1996.
-Cozzzzmic review, Ubyssey, University of British Columbia student newspaper, October 1996.
-Peter Wilson, “A Gift From The Fire God,” text/photo, The Vancouver Sun, Oct.31st, 1994.
-Angela Murrills, “Your Guests Could Meet Cupid…” text/photo, Georgia Straight, Oct.21st, 1994.
-‘Art Now’, review, North Shore News, North Vancouver, BC, 1993.
-David Somers, “Tom La Pierre – Arena of the Heart and Mind,” Art Gallery of Peel, pg.10, 1993.
-‘Images and Objects X’, Assembly of B.C. Arts Councils; poster/catalogue cover/invites, 1992.
-Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s Allegro, cover, October 1992.
Vision? – notes page – 13/09/2006- Michael Abraham
Art that speaks to me reflects the psychic states of being human.
Although I love a fine line or form for form sake, it is meaning in the form that pleases me the most.
It is said that an individual’s life is the personal experience of shared universal experiences. We are not masses of thoughtless people, but millions of individuals, each with a heart and mind. As an artist, I am an image-maker, visually expressing reflections on things we potentially all share. I think that by seeing others’ points of view, we learn about ourselves. I think this is the most important role of the arts and humanities. I work hard at what I do but recognize that I live in a fortunate enough time and place in the world to be able to reflect on these things.
My vision is an evolving one, a vision in which content and purpose change as personal experiences and awareness to the greater world occur. From the beginning of my career, the focus has been a reflection on innocence and awareness. From global situations to everyday family life, from outer appearance to inner desire or disdain, anything is fair game in image-making.
I hope that my work makes people realize they are not alone, that we all have fears, insecurities, sorrows, hopes, and joy. Like a great song, I hope my work creates connectedness. I want it to promote laughing the great cosmic laugh, acknowledging the passage of time, recording the journey, connecting to the humanness in us all, conveying the interconnectedness and interrelationship of us all, honouring play, honouring nature, acknowledging the fragility of all things, including the self, seeing our folly, seeing our strengths, understanding the aggressive nature of mankind. I want to capture the seriousness as well as the humour of existence, attempting to bridge the gap between the inner world of thoughts, feelings, and emotions with and outer world.
In my paintings, I am not a symbolist, but sometimes objects are used as symbols for greater meaning, symbols of faith or lack of, fear or boldness, envy, love, compassion, uncertainty, confidence, wonder… At other times objects are used for their literal meaning, marking a passing event such as the bombing of a city or the birth of a child.
I am inspired by everything from old master painting, Jungian symbolism, from Greek mythological figures to pop culture icons. I love the Early Italian Renaissance and Flemish (Northern European) art of the fourteenth century as well as modernism.
I enjoy trying to understand the media, human nature, and the motives for peoples’ actions, sexuality, love, and relationships. I have been enabled in many ways to be an observer, and in my friendships and life as a participant. I am as deeply moved by a religious ceremony of any of my many ethnic neighbours, as I am pumped by punk, synth folk, or classical music! I enjoy ideas encapsulating the sacred and profane, and enjoy the playful and sometimes playfully sinister aspects in the meeting of the two.
We live in serious times, making one want to escape and find time to play, but one knows we must still pay attention.
Hope is my mantra, hope for tolerance, enlightenment, peace, health, education, compassion, love of the planet and all its beings, and getting lucky on a Friday night!