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“Bull and Woman” Artwork by Faraj Daham Essay

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Updated: Jun 6th, 2021


The preservation of cultural heritage is an important aspect of a civilized society, and an ability to appreciate the achievements of art demonstrates people’s high moral principles and penchant for aesthetics. In order to analyze one of the samples of Arab culture in the context of an individual object, the work “Bull and Woman” created by Faraj Daham will be considered.1 The nature of the image put on a steel surface reveals the author’s style and allows determining the perception that inspired the artist to create his masterpiece.

Today, it is exhibited in Mathaf, the Arab Museum of Modern Art. “Bull and Woman” was created in 1977, and it has not lost its popularity due to an unusual performance technique.2 The manner and features of the selected work may have different interpretations. At the same time, when evaluating the object from the standpoint of conformity with Arab culture, it can be argued that the style and plot of the work largely convey the peculiarities of social organization.

Reflecting Arab Culture

When considering “Bull and Women” from the point of view of social features, it can be noted how accurately Daham conveys the order that is typical for Arab culture.3 The image of a woman riding a strong animal, as shown in Figure 1, reflects the fact that the gender issue is quite relevant in the environment in which he created his work. The ability of the character to control the bull indicates that she has a strong will and inner strength, which allows her to ride and restrain the power that this animal can demonstrate. The personification of an Arab female power is one of the main creative messages, and despite the jewelry that the artist depicts, willpower and spirit can be traced.

Bull and Woman.
Figure 1. Bull and Woman.

The style that Daham chooses does not reflect many unique details. Nevertheless, while analyzing the work, it can be understood that the role of women is significant. The character sits astride a bull, which speaks of her strengths and possibilities. Therefore, this work may be viewed as an example of the reflection of Arab society and the artist’s attitude to the gender issue, which is often raised in today’s realities.

Relation to Western Modernism

The form of the work in question is non-standard and is not an example of a modern style. The image on the steel circle emphasizes the individuality of the author and his unusual approach to the manner of painting. At the same time, when discussing “Bull and Woman” from the point of view of stylistics, it can be noted that the work has much in common with the direction of modernism that originated in the West.4

Judging by the artist’s style, formalism and subjectivity are traced, as well as the rejection of the traditional canons of visual art to enhance the created image. These aspects indicate that Daham held the position of Western modernists who were often referred to as the genre of the avant-garde. The concepts of reality dissolve in the artist’s fantasies, and the image shows that many lines are not drawn with detailed accuracy. Accordingly, the purpose was to convey the general concept that did not depend on the current standards and reflected content but not a form. As a result, the work has much in common with the canvases modernists, which characterizes Daham as a versatile personality.

The Topic of Art and Politics in the Considered Work

Despite the fact that the work in question has a rather mean style to talk about the images that it personifies, in addition to social organization, “Bull and Woman” can be associated with political trends.5 This fact is justified by the period in which it was created. In general, depending on social conditions and ideological orientation, the impact of political institutions can have both positive and negative impacts on the sphere of art. Since the end of the 20th century was marked by disagreements among the leaders of Eastern countries and the struggle for supremacy in a particular region, the image of the woman may be deciphered as a sign that is sent to public elites and officials.

A strong and daring character on a bull can represent the idea of ​​a unified power that is separated from prejudices and bias. Accordingly, in order to draw public attention to the issues of political regimes, Daham might have created his work and invested enough energy in it to influence the target audience. As a result, a lively and vivid image can be interpreted in the context of relation to politics.

The Features of the Works’ Impact on the Audience

Although the artist uses several colors, the work can hardly be considered an object that is rich in shades. On the contrary, the lack of visual design allows separating attention from unnecessary parts and concentrating on the sense that the image carries. Since the painting is put on a steel round surface, the key focus is on the central part where the main elements are depicted. Separate small inserts in the form of jewelry and hair make “Bull and Woman” more alive.6

In general, the images used by Daham allow him to influence the public and draw attention to the work due to an unusual technique that remotely resembles ancient pictures. Those cave paintings that were part of the culture of primitive tribes also contained relatively sketchy elements. However, earlier, similar subjects did not carry a significant semantic load and were created as the reflection of that reality and lifestyle, in particular, hunting and military successes.

Daham seeks to convey complexity through simplicity and deliberately resorts to such a technique in order to attract the audience not only to contemplation but also to thinking. The modernist character of the image distinguishes it from many works of the artist’s contemporaries and is the original piece of art. As a result, quite simple elements are formed into a clear visual picture that encourages viewers to express individual opinions regarding Daham’s ideas and his perception of reality.


Despite the comparative simplicity of the work in question, its essence largely conveys the character of social organization and has various implications. The connection of the picture with politics is traced in the ideological desire of the artist to emphasize the struggle for power and domination through the images conveyed through the painting. Rich and multifaceted Arab culture is transmitted with the help of those characters that Daham portrays. Also, some social phenomena are affected, in particular, gender nuances because the woman on the bull personifies strength and endurance, which largely characterizes the current state of affairs.


Bull and Woman. Digital image. Pictame. Web.


  1. Bull and Woman, digital image, Picture. Web.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Bull and Woman, digital image, Picture. Web.
  5. Bull and Woman, digital image, Picture. Web.
  6. Bull and Woman, digital image, Picture. Web.
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"“Bull and Woman” Artwork by Faraj Daham." IvyPanda, 6 June 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/bull-and-woman-artwork-by-faraj-daham/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "“Bull and Woman” Artwork by Faraj Daham." June 6, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/bull-and-woman-artwork-by-faraj-daham/.


IvyPanda. (2021) '“Bull and Woman” Artwork by Faraj Daham'. 6 June.

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