Abraham Mojica has a fascination with bulls, horses, elephants, tigers, and alligators. Over his short career of seven years as an artist, he has painted dozens of these large animals. These animals, elephants, horses, and tigers, for example, are nostalgic recollections of his days working for a Mexican circus. Bulls also have a special appeal to him, and he favors showing them staring at you or on their hind legs as if preparing to charge. The bulls are a reminder of his years living in rural communities of Central Mexico and visiting Plazas de Toros throughout Mexico.
Abraham, as he prefers to be known, welcomed a packed audience of 300 masked guests to his solo exhibit at the Atrium of the new Frost Bank in San Antonio on September 2nd, 2021. He was overwhelmed by the interest in his new works, especially given these difficult Covid times. Nearly all of his paintings sold. Over the past few years, Abraham has done sufficiently well in art sales to expand his painting and sales activities to Miami and New York where he shares small studio spaces with other local artists.
Abraham was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco in 1977, surrounded by well-educated extended family members. His father, a physician, preferred to work among the poorest communities of his state of Jalisco and in the surrounding states of Michoacan and Colima. Dr. Mojica believed he could make a difference in health care by focusing his efforts on the rural poor of Mexico. Dr. Mojica and his family never settled in any one community. They moved about, sometimes living in as many as eight to ten communities in one year.
At age thirteen, Abraham went into the seminary to train for the priesthood. Several years later, however, he left the seminary and ran off to join the circus. In the circus, he was trained as a mime performer and magician. It was during the circus years that he became closely acquainted with elephants, tigers, and horses. After several years of traveling with the circus to every part of Mexico, he traveled to Latin America on his own making a living as a mime performer.
When Abraham first moved to the United States, he lived and worked in Oakland finding jobs in the construction industries. He relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico where he worked as a contractor remodeling homes with a specialty in interior design. The 2008 housing market crash led him to consider moving to Texas where the Great Recession had a smaller impact on home building and renovation. That year he made a permanent move to San Antonio where he continued his work as a contractor.
A family tragedy in Mexico left Abraham grieving for months, leading him to rethink his life, including his work. His heart was so weighed down by pain and grief that he found it difficult to work. When a friend recommended painting as a therapeutic solution to his pain and grief, his life turned around for the better. Painting gave him significant cathartic peace of mind.
I visited Abraham in early September shortly after his show at the Frost Building Atrium. He has a modest studio in midtown San Antonio near the Courthouse on Flores Street. Although Abraham has been painting full-time for a relatively short period, he approaches his canvases with confidence as if he had painted all his life. His style is highly unusual in that he paints with both hands.
Abraham’s walls and floors are filled with his most recent completions, several to be shipped to buyers and
others that he does not wish to sell. While we visited, his phone rang constantly. Most of his calls were inquiries about the status of certain paintings or about the latest story about his work found in the Sept/Oct issue of Maxim, a New York City fashion magazine.
Maxim writer Jordan Riefe titled his article on Abraham, “Escape Artist.” Riefe commented on the artist’s travels throughout Latin American as a performer and his more than ten years of training in martial arts. Perhaps also the title of Riefe’s article is a reference to Abraham’s escape from his previous work as a contractor which often required him to spend full days installing ceramic tile or painting interior walls. The work was tedious and exhausting. Discovering the world of painting gave Abraham an escape and a brighter outlook on life.
Many of Abraham’s new paintings are an elaboration of his life in Mexico. His recent series of “Brujas” or witches are striking portraits of Mexican women whose faces seem to hide deep secrets. Abraham is full of curiosity and is not certain where his imagination will take him for his next series of paintings. Whatever it is, it will be imaginative and marvelous.