Still-life with Creten Bulls signed and dated 'Preller 55' l.r. oil and sand on board 19 x 36 cm. (7½ x 14¼ in.)
This picture is an example of Preller's preoccupation with metaphysics, metaphors and myths. The influences of El Greco and the still-lifes of Hieronymous Bosch are obvious, and the motifs seen here are almost Surrealist in fashion. A combination of influences are evident: African mythology and ritual, which is seen so often in Preller's early work, and which was inspired by his time camping in Swaziland and the Congo in the 1930s; Dogon art and animism, subject of many 1940s anthropological studies; Greek mythology, which becomes more evident in his 1960s paintings; and his trips to study the murals of Northern Africa and Italy in 1953. This work was completed at the same time as his resulting mural commission for the Receiver of Revenue Building in Johannesburg.
Preller would title many of his works In the Beginning, although he would say that this title could be applied to all his work. One such work, a large oil on canvas dated 1962, (private collection, South Africa) features the same bull among many other motifs.