Bullworks – 2006, and one more 2014.
‘Bull Works’ was a body of work exhibited in 2006 at Gallery Jones, with some images then carrying on to Jan Baum Gallery in Los Angeles for a show called ‘Arena’.
To The Cleaners – Bull
This image was created in 2014 while thinking of the idea of cleaning up Wall Street, and the regulation of financial markets.
Artists Statement – May 2006
Michael Abraham – Bull Works – At Gallery Jones, Vancouver
Transcending the bull is one’s life work.
Bull Works is a painterly journey, a search for meaning, purpose, and coming to the understanding that having and wanting are two different worlds. While I know I have much to be grateful for – most especially my family and people who buy and appreciate my work, I still feel something is missing. It is an inner nagging for something more – this unknown ‘something’ that propels my search.
To further explore this feeling, I decided in the fall of 2005 to go to New York for a couple of months to inspire an expanded perspective. While I went seeking one thing, I returned with quite another – an enhanced viewpoint on my desires, angst, and purpose. I spent many days in the Metropolitan Museum as well as others, attended art openings, took some drawing sessions, sat in on interesting lectures, and met new friends. Alone one evening, the following image came to me: it was of a man grasping a bed that was turning into a charging bull. It was so powerful, it stuck with me; and while it is one I have yet to paint, it is certainly definitive of my on-going journey.
I met a new friend there who called the experience I was going through “the muse at work – the bitch and goddess that he/she is.” The gift and the curse being one! Midlife is on the doorstep, and my muse is the director of its perfect timing. I had many thoughts about “wanting” as I called it, something the Buddhists call “desire” … wanting to end certain feelings, begin others, get more out of life and living. When I returned to Vancouver I read some short stories, amongst which I found a Buddhist one called “10 Bulls!” In reading this story, the bull represents the mind, and I added the interpretation that is also the ego. It reflected much of the search I was on – like how there is a definite universality to life’s stages, especially as it relates to one’s spiritual awakening. Using the story as a departure point, I began sketches that brought out some of the paintings in Bull Works.
It also set me thinking about the many bullish markets of survival – bull as the modern term for what is wrong (bull), illusions (bull). Acknowledging the testosterone-laden inner world and it’s desperate need to create at any expense, and similarly, the outside world’s ongoing bullish nature to expand; perpetuating an illusion of man’s mastery via material obsession, while ignoring its environmental, psychological and spiritual cost. The forces of nature and the social structures of society are not always the gentle ones as I once so thought in my youth. Understanding what is metaphorically called ‘the bull’, growing from and going beyond, and hopefully not adding to it (at least not too much!) is something I strive for daily.
Uppermost in my observations is the phenomenon of time and its passing. Time is certainly fleeting and ephemeral; the Buddha has a more precise way of putting it – “impermanence.” We ride on the planet in the middle of nowhere. Imagery evolves from feeling, as much as from intellect. I feel “sweet sorrow”, as my lady says. I hope to come to Buddha-like enlightenment laughing at the paradox of the grand insignificance of it all, as well as the grand glory.
The process of painting Bull Works has allowed me to think through many thoughts. The unknown feeling is still within me, but now I choose to call it a mystery and embrace it as an acceptable part of the journey.
Michael Abraham July 2006