Muhammad Yungai is a portrait artist and muralist in Atlanta. “I call my style inspirational realism,” said Yungai. He began composing murals, and other large canvas works, after origins focusing on portraiture and being inspired by the artistic creations of his father. Yungai now makes art with the intention to “instill pride or pull some sort of inspirational or positive result from the viewer.”
Yungai calls young people his most important motivator in creating, saying, “My hope is that it will activate something positive from them; something positive for their day, or something positive that could impact their life.” He’s inspired by movies, poetry, books, and “anything that’s visually masterful.”
The artist came to Atlanta in 1996, originally hoping to pursue hip-hop as an art form and career, and was inspired by Atlanta’s diverse representation of Black creators and entrepreneurs. “I love the rich history of Atlanta, what it meant to civil rights, but what I really like the most is that it’s like a blank canvas. It can really be what you want it to be,” said Yungai.
Comparing his options, Yungai chose to focus more on visual art rather than music; he cites the welcoming and vibrant gallery scene he encountered and the “shadiness” of his experiences in music studios. “When I first started painting, I would paint my heroes, and I would paint images of music and jazz because that was the world that I knew,” he said. After an opportunity to create artwork and murals for his daughters’ charter school, Yungai found himself offered a consistent flow of mural commissions as his artwork continued to impress visitors.
More from Yungai and examples of his artwork can be found at https://www.artofyungai.com/.