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“44th” by Muhammad Mubark is on display in the gallery of the Los Anglees Sentinel. – Photo by Jason Lewis for Sentinel
Artist Muhammad Mubarak may have come up with his best work yet, which is saying a lot because he is one of the world’s foremost portrait artists.
His latest work is titled “44th,” in honor of President Barak Obama. Obama’s images pop right out of this painting because of the black background, which has a meaning.
“That represents ‘blackness,’ his blackness, our blackness,” Mubarak said. “The black background is our heritage, our history, and the history in the making. It reflects everything that we know about our people.”
With this painting Mubarak feels like he’s getting better.
“I can’t tell you enough how people, when they see it, they’re like damn!” Mubarak said.
Mubarak has been commissioned by the late Redd Foxx, boxing giants Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr., and entertainers Stevie Wonder, Barry White, Tavis Smiley and boxing promoter Don King.
Mubarak was born in Memphis, where he lived until he was seven years old. His most profound memories of Memphis was segregation.
“Black people lived on one side of the street and White people lived on the other side,” Mubarak said. “Black people couldn’t be on the side walk on the other side.”
Mubarak moved to Compton with his mother and siblings in 1959. His family lived on Elm St. and Wilmington and he attended George Washington Electuary School, Walton Jr. High School, and then to Centennial High School.
Mubarak said that Compton during that time was half White, and the other half was Black and Latino.
While in high school Mubarak was recruited into the Black Panther Party by John Huggins, who was one of the leaders of the Los Angeles chapter of the Black Panthers.
“I was sparked by the ideals and the action of the Black Panther Party,” Mubarak said. “In ’67, when they walked up to the State Capital with all those guns to the state legislature. Twenty-one Panthers walking in with shotguns, machine guns, and pistols, protesting. I said ‘man, look at these cats, let me see what they’re all about.'”
Mubarak stayed with the Black Panthers until 1970, when he started hanging with the “hustler” crowd. That crowd got Mubarak into trouble, and he ended up with a six-year prison sentence for robbery. That prison sentence turned his life around, and Mubarak started to focus more on his painting. While in prison Mubarak had time to develop his talent.
“When I came out I had something to work with, something to make money with,” Mubarak said.
Soon after Mubarak was released from prison he met legendary comedian Red Foxx. Mubarak had painted a portrait of Foxx while in prison, and when he showed Foxx the portrait, Foxx paid him $300 for it, and it started a friendship that opened a lot of doors for Mubarak.
Mubarak began his painting career through the inspiration of his uncle, Arthur Dunlap Jr., the very talented pencil and ink portrait artist and also through the motivation of the great oil portrait artist David Mosely. Without any formal training, over the years he has developed into one of the world’s formidable portrait artist.
In early 1974 he began studying radio at the Los Angeles School of Broadcasting and eventually obtained an FCC license for broadcast radio. After a brief stint of doing public service announcements and commercials at KJLH FM, he began focusing on his natural talent with led him to be commissioned by Foxx and Stevie Wonder, who called upon him to design the cover for his album “Hotter Then July.”
Mubarak has also been commissioned by Los Angeles Publisher Danny Bakewell and entertainer Barr White
To purchase this painting, or any of Mubarak’s other works, contact him at (323) 679-6783, or at www.mubarakart.com. His painting can be viewed at the art gallery at the Los Angeles Sentinel.Â