Hulis Mavruk – Turkish-born artist who paints black people
When I first saw the artist’s name on the print on the auction website, I didn’t recognize it. The image was an African American man, woman and child in a position of struggle.
This obviously was done by a black artist who knew the history of his people, I thought to myself, given the image and the title “The Infinite Struggle.” I wasn’t sure, though, about the name: H. Mavruk. The uncommonness of it intrigued me even more.
So I went Googling and came across a first name: Hulis (I later realized that the artist’s full name was printed in small letters on the bottom right of the print). I found tons of his open-edition prints being sold at several galleries that specialized in African American images.
This wasn’t necessarily the type of artwork that grabbed me, but it was affordable for someone who wanted to dress their walls with people who looked like them. Open-ended or open edition prints are reproductions of originals that are usually produced in large quantities and not signed by the artist. Hence, the low price.
I found only a sketchy bio about the artist Hulis Mavruk on his website – and repeated quite often on others. He was a born in Turkey in 1952 and started painting as a child, according to the website for his gallery, H&M Art Gallery. At one point, Mavruk had a gallery on the Incirlik Air Force Base in southern Turkey near the Mediterranean Sea, where he painted portraits of American officers. He apparently got to know some of the black airmen and painted them, too.
Mavruk moved to this country in 1972, according to his website, and began painting images of African Americans as a community of people. “Mavruk believes that his work can inspire young African Americans to take pride in their heritage and try to emulate their leaders,” according to his website.
His African American works ranged from families to Buffalo Soldiers to Malcolm X to Martin Luther King to cotton picking to African American women to a mother nursing her baby to faith and religion. His website had eight pages of his prints, ranging in price from $4.50 to limited-edition giclees for $225. “The Infinite Struggle” was selling for $15.
I wasn’t around when the Mavruk print sold at auction, so I hope the buyer didn’t pay more than five bucks for it.
Mavruk’s print was among several at the auction with African American themes, something I don’t see very often. Maybe the auction house had cleaned out the home of a black family, like the estate sale I attended a couple months ago with an array of such artwork.
At this auction, I found hanging on a wall what looked to be a watercolor on handmade paper titled “Lena, Belting the Blues,” signed by D. Price. It was a lovely piece, but I could not find anything about the artist on the web.
As I was venturing among the auction house’s furniture offerings – where I sometimes find some interesting items tucked away – I came upon a framed print signed by artist Charles Bibbs. It was propped against furniture in a cramped aisle, and I instantly recognized his style. Titled “Enlightenment (1996),” it was created to celebrate the UNCF (United Negro College Fund).