email : (then search for Ibrahim Brian Thompson and Artist)


In 1993 when we were working on construction a large exhibition and  researching African influences on European artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Epstein, and our research assistant Abdul Rashid came upon this reference, buried in the small print footnotes of a large and rare book we had on special loan from National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside (NMGM) He brought it to me saying: "This may be important." Of course he knew it was very significant and his understatement was a nice touch before this small, almost buried footnote reference;


“Cezanne, it was the Negro blood of his mother that gave his canvasses most of their qualities.” Written by Robert Coady, Art Editor and New York Gallery Director in Exhibition notes 1917.     


We then purchased every book we could find on Paul Cezanne, in all the bookshops in Liverpool. Only one mentioned his mother, Elizabeth Aubert but only a single reference, in passing and no mention of her ethnicity. Readers would assume she was white. Every book wrote about his white father, a French banker, but with no reference to his ethnicity either.


Later on, Professor Protasia Torkington, researching her book ‘The Social Construction of Knowledge: A Case for Black Studies’ found this reference by gallerist Ambroise Vollard, a biographer and friend of Cezanne, and himself black, born in the East African island of Reunion;


“Elizabeth Aubert, Cezanne’s mother, was born at Aix, of a family of remote Creole origin. She was vivacious and romantic, carefree in spirit, but endowed with a disposition at once restless, passionate and quick to take offence. It was from her that Paul got his conception and vision of life.”


Cezanne is acknowlexdged as the innovative, founding father of modern European Art and Picasso honours him but without referring to his ethnicity.


During the Tate Gallery’s blockbuster Cezanne exhibition in 1996, the Tate’s Curator insisted he was white and patronisingly dismissed our evidence after the Guardian had printed a letter from LARCAA. The Guardian allowed us to reply and titled it "Tete a Tate". We were critical of the Tate establishment, it's foundation and links with sugar plantations and slavery, the historical whitewash and denials and the fact that Tate Liverpool omly employed one black person out of more than 70 staff, and he was in 'security'.  Tate Liverpool had opened opened at the Albert Dock with millions of £'s grant support from European Funding beacause of extreme poverty in Liverpool (nowhere greater than in Toxteth). Liverpool is known as the 18th Century Capital of the Slave Trade, controlling five sixths of 'The African Trade' (Encyclopaedia Britanica 1947 edition).


I am a witness - Ibrahim Brian Thompson (Artistic Director of Liverpool Anti-Racist Community Arts Association 1987-1997) Ibrahim Thompson

PS. They are at it again. Cezanne Partraits exhibition in London 2017-18 with special catalogue. No mention of his mother! What is their rationale?



 Ibrahim Brian Thompson (born 1947) draws on the genres of photorealism, social and magic realism, aspects of surrealism, commercial art, illustration and graphic design, progressive politics, universal values and the spirit of Islam to convey inspirational ideas or portray excellence and  accomplishment by exemplary sporting luminaries. Ibrahim admires the craftsmanship of an artisan,the skilled manual worker who makes items that may be functional or strictly decorative.

 Photorealism is the style of painting based on using the camera and photographs to gather information and from this information creating a painting that appears photographic but is always recognized as a painting. The term was first applied to paintings from the United States art movement that began in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It can be argued that the use of technology is an acceptance of Modernism; however, visual devices have been used since the fifteenth century to aid artists with their work. Photorealist painting cannot exist without the photograph. In Photorealism, change and movement are frozen in time and then accurately represented by the artist who must have the technical ability to transfer the information to the canvas or board to make the finished work appear photographic.

 Social Realism is an artistic movement, expressed in the visual and other realist arts. The subject matter challenges social and racial injustice, and economic hardship, in pictures of life's struggles and aspirations, often depicting working class activities as heroic. The movement is a style of painting in which the scenes depicted, typically convey a social or political message, in contrast to ‘art for art’s sake’. Social Realism became an important art movement during the Great Depression in the USA in the 1930s. Social Realism has been summarized by Kathleen Grisham in the following way:

  ‘Social Realism developed as a reaction against idealism and the exaggerated ego encouraged by Romanticism. Consequences of the Industrial Revolution became apparent; urban centres grew, slums proliferated on a new scale contrasting with the display of wealth of the upper classes. With a new sense of social consciousness, Social Realists focused on the realities of contemporary life and sympathized with working-class people, particularly the poor.’

 Magic Realism is an aesthetic style in which magical elements blend with the real world. The portrayal of magical elements as real occurrences, are presented in a straightforward manner that places the "real" and the "fantastic" in the same image. It is a visual art, film, and literary genre.Professor and author, Matthew Strecher, describes Magic Realism as

 “What happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe." This critical perspective towards magical realism stems from mythology, a rootof magical realism more easily understood by non-Western cultures. Western confusion regarding magical realism is due to the "conception of the real" created in a magical realist text: rather than explain reality using natural or physical laws, as in typical Western texts, magical realist texts create a reality, he says, "in which the relation between incidents, characters, and setting may not be based upon or justified by reality within the physical world or their normal acceptance by bourgeois mentality, which is conventional, conservative, and materialist."

 Commercial Art is the art created for business purposes, primarily publicity. The term has become synonymous with graphic design and advertising art. Commercial art traditionally includes designing books, marketing of different products, signs, posters, and other displays to promote the sale or acceptance of products, services, or ideas. Most commercial artists have the ability to organize information, and a knowledge of fine arts, visualization and media. Communication is vital in this field. Commercial artists work in a variety of situations doing many things in the artistic world such as advertisement, illustration and animation.

 Illustration is described as a depiction (such as a drawing, painting, photograph, or other image) that is created to elucidate or dictate sensual information (such as a story, poem, or newspaper article). From cave paintings and illuminated manuscripts, to mass market magazines, comics and books. In the visual art world, illustrators have sometimes been considered less important in comparison with fine artists and graphic designers, the term "illustrative" sometimes being used as a negative critique. But, possibly in part due to the growth of video game and graphic novel industries, as well as a recent swing in value towards illustration in magazines and other publications over photography, illustration is becoming a valued, popular, and profitable art form that can acquire a wider market than the other two.

 Graphic Design is undertaken to convey a specific message (or messages) to a targeted audience, usually from the client, known as the 'brief'. The term "graphic design" can also refer to a number of artistic and professional disciplines that focus on visual communication and presentation. The field as a whole is also often referred to as Visual Communication or Communication Design. Various methods are used to create and combine words, symbols, and images to create a visual representation of ideas and messages. A graphic designer may use a combination of typography, visual arts and page layout techniques to produce balanced, focused and symmetrical results. Graphic design often refers to both the process (designing) by which the communication is created and the products (designs) which are generated. Common uses of graphic design include identity (logos and branding), publications (magazines, newspapers and books), advertisements and product packaging. For example, a product package might include a logo or other artwork, organized text and pure design elements such as shapes and colour which unify the piece.

 The spirit of Islam is peace, unity, diversity, knowledge and obedience to the will of God as revealed in the Qur’an and the example set by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

 Universal values include, family, justice, equality, courage, honesty, patience, scholarship, charity, friendship, modesty, generosity, good manners, thoughtfulness, cleanliness, safety, hard work ...

 Sport Stars can be models of perseverance, passion and excellence, and champions are positive references. They can encourage young people to be more active, to aspire, and to have an ideal or a goal to achieve with effort. They then become a driving force, source of motivation and inspirers of dreams.

 Personal inspiration comes from observation, reflection and reading of social historical texts, poetry and speeches, in addition to the Qur’an, famous for their civic message, challenge to conscience and historical place in the struggle to make a better world.

 In 1988, Ibrahim, celebrated John Barnes’ success as Professional Footballers Association and Football Writers Association, ‘Player of the Year’, and Liverpool FC’s Division One Championship and Charity Shield victory, with an artwork in mixed media, that was used as a Sport Aid fundraiser. The original is owned by John Barnes.

 Other artworks include a multiple action painting in pastels of former Liverpool and Sunderland footballer Howard Gayle, a poster design in watercolours, ink and letraset, for a Mandela Freedom Festival in Liverpool 1988, a national liberation poster for Nicaragua and a series of paintings in oils, acrylics and pastels in the 1990’s, to celebrate diversity, and commemorate the ‘Decade of the African Child’, one of which was chosen from tens of thousands submitted by 120 countries, for a publication jointly distributed in 1992, by The United Nations and Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, ‘Visions of a Better World’.

 In 2010, he completed an oil painting of Sunderland supporter, Steve Cram, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his amazing hat trick of world records in 1985 and the image was distributed as a postcard to all participants at a celebrity and general public event in the presence of Cram and his rivals including, Seb Coe, John Walker and Said Aouita. The original is owned by Steve Cram.

 Two recent completed Sport Artworks, in oil on canvas board, show an appreciation for the outstanding equaliser by Seb Larsson in Sunderland AFC’s opening match at Liverpool in August 2011, a matching pair entitled ‘Larsson’s Lunar and Solar Football Eclipses’.

Ibrahim has just completed a commission, ‘Butterfly, Bee and Muhammad Ali’ and is working on a major ‘biographic’, in oil on canvas, of Sunderland Legend, the first Black Captain in English football, Gary Bennett, who played for the club for 11 years, settled, raised his family, works in local schools coaching and campaigning as a ‘Hall of Fame’ member of ‘Show Racism the Red Card’, and is half of the outstanding BBC Radio Newcastle team with Nick Barnes, covering all Sunderland matches

The most recent painting is 'Creation of Adam - African Style' (After Michelangelo 1512) in oil paint. It followed a debate with a friend about readings or interpretations of Michelangelo's masterpiece. A celebration of the images in the Sistene Chapel but also a critique of the Eurocentric portrayal of God, Adam, prophets and angels depicted following instructions from Pope Julius ll.


 Some of these original award winning and published examples of Ibrahim’s ‘Sport, Social and Magic Photo-Realist’ paintings, produced in a variety of media, including oil, acrylic, gouache and pastel, from 12” x 8” to 6’ x 4’ are available for purchase. All images are copyright of Ibrahim Brian Thompson.