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Bullish Visions

The Bulls will be shown from September 13 through October of 2018, at Art on 9th in Inglewood, Calgary
Concussionist, 30x40


The Bulls by Erica Neumann

This series of six bucking bull oil paintings is more than abstract representations of raging bovines.

This is the culmination of over five years work on a theory that exposeses the mysteries of ancient art by connecting them to modern art through a shared human trait.

In understanding the trait and what it does to our perception, we can fully understand the mysteries of how cave drawings can be so complex, and why spirits so often appear in ancient works. The Bull paintings are modern examples of art using this shared trait during their creation.


We all know of this trait as it causes us to sometimes see shapes and figures in clouds or mountain contours, such as the sleeping buffalo mountain in Banff. These types of visions might appear to us on other textured surfaces, such as granite, marble, and woodgrain. I call these surfaces triggers, and the trait is referred to as Pareidolia.

Face carved by the suggestion in the wood.


My idea explaining how Pareidolia effected ancient art was published in The Journal of Brief Ideas in the spring of 2018. Click the link below to read it in it's published form.

Imagery in Rock and Ancient Art Influenced by Pareidolic Response to Environmental Stimuli

More simply put, I believe that cave artists saw animal shapes suggested in the multi-coloured, textured surface of the cave walls and traced them with charcoal.


I believe the Maori and Hawaiin people saw faces in lava, and this, for the Maori, inspired art that celebrates swirling, black and red motifs and a focus on the "tongue", for as lava advances, it does so in tongues. It seems the lava spirit is even harnessed in the powerful Haka dance, with it's slow, purposeful movements and menacing faces featuring tongue displays.


The trigger surface and sketch for Victor, 30x40

As there is no lava in Calgary, Alberta, that I could use as a trigger surface for these Bull paintings, I used smeared charcoal instead. They are worked the same way the cave artists may have worked, only I have beautiful paint colours at my disposal, as well as an art education and reference material.

Blue Chip, 30x40

There are many contemporary artists using this technique in their work - serendipitously I've been gifted two such pieces, one from Spain and one from Cuba.

A gift from a friend after a visit to modern day Cuba.


Pareidolia is the missing link that connects us to the artists of our ancient past. Understanding the logical and very real source for visions will change modern interpretations of ancient work. This will provide a rational artistic history rather than one based on supernatural events.

Red Ringer, 30x40
A deliberate homage to our ancient artistic origins because they were influenced by visions, the Bulls also intentionally harness the fighting spirit of the bull as celebrated in Calgary culture.


  1. I totally and truly understand this, I have been seeing creatures in abstract shapes since I was a child, no wonder I became a painter. I guess it was natural. I love that word pareidolia, new word old idea, Thank you for communicating it. like your work.

    1. Sincerely- thank you for taking the time to comment. I think that once we notice images suggested in various textures, we start to see more, and some textures are better suited than others. Definitely abstract shapes would do it.


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