Gulgee, 1926-2007

Posted by sepoy on December 19, 2007 · 1 min read

The list of legends in Pakistani art is a short list: Sadequain (1930-1987), A. R. Chughtai (1899—1975), Shakir Ali (1916-1975), Laila Shahzada (1926-1994), and Ismail Gulgee (1926-2007). It was great shock, this morning, to read that Ismail Gulgee was found murdered in Karachi at his home.

Once, a long time ago, I attended a gallery talk where he discussed Mughal art. I remember only that I left feeling immense admiration for his eloquence and his art. There is scarcely a public building in Lahore or Karachi that doesn't contain a print of his abstract series or of his calligraphy series.

Hasnat Abdul Hye has a short biographical essay on him that gives details of his life and career. More recently is an interview with him by Humayun Gauhar. You can also view his art in the accompanying photo essay.

A great loss for art and artists in Pakistan.


Hassan Sheikh | December 19, 2007

I am just speechless having just heard the news of Gulgee's murder. Apparently Gulgee's car is missing.... what can I say when we're nation of such thick people who murder a legend for the sake of few thousand dollars car.... really sad time Hassan

Shakeel Ahmad Khan Pakhtun | December 19, 2007

My heart aches.... What are we doing as a nation??? Where are we headed? May Allah Bless Him.... Shakeel Ahmad Khan Pakhtun

Rahim Ali (Houston) | December 19, 2007

it is indeed a great loss for Pakistan and for all of us Pakistanis. i am fortunate enough to have met this Great Artist when i was in 5 th grade at S.M.S AGA KHAN SCHOOL (KARIMABAD, KARACHI) some 24 years ago. he was the chief guest at our art exhibition. indeed a wonderful person and a role model to all of us who want to see true and honest people to serve Pakistan in all walks of lives and who are tired of corrupt and un human politicians. May ALLAH rest his soul in peace. Ameen.

Dara S.Shaikh | December 19, 2007

Friends of my parents Sheroo & Ayesha Shaikh & regular visitors to our home in the 60's & 70's. Warm couple who brought much mirth to the gathering..... May their souls rest in peace

Shahnaz Suteria | December 20, 2007

Couple years ago I had visited Gulgee Uncle in his home with my 9 year old nephew, Ali Zain and 11 year old son, Zia Ali. Gulgee Uncle had said to me as he personally autographed his book of works of art, "It is so nice to see such young children being taught appreciation of art," as he personally introduced each piece to the children. Indeed a great loss to the world of art in its truly creative form. Knew my parents, Shaker and Sherali, very well too. May their souls rest in eternal peace, Ameen.

Ishrat | December 20, 2007

We do not have painting in our house except a scenery bought from a local decoration shop. No other art pieces whatsoever. My mother never went to school nor has she been initiated in any kind of arts. But she knew about Gulgee. We were in mourning this morning, me, my sister and my mother, very shocked and saddened by the death of an icon in this manner. It is symptomatic that something is rotten in the state of Denmark! But the grief expressed by all and sundry also shows that the proportion of this tragedy has not been missed. May it lead to some realisation in the nation. May the souls of the deceased rest in peace.

Mukhtar Shaheen | December 20, 2007

It is a great loss to the art-lovers all around the world. It will not be the same without him. We had the privelege to see his work when we visited his gallery near our home in Clifton. May Allah rest their souls in peace. From London.

Ali Adil Khan (Toronto) | December 23, 2007

It is with great sorrow and a heavy heart that I write this note. I have been in a state of shock and grief when I was informed of Gulgee's murder. While I never met this great artist, I have admired and adored his work tremondously. Last year I was fortunate to acquire a masterpiece done by him on canvas, which was brought over to Canada by a close friend. Since the paint was still wet, Gulgee had put a wooden frame around the work to protect it in transit. The frame has Gulgee's finger-prints in colour, which I have left as is. That painting will stay with me for ever and remind me of Gulgee's genius. May he rest in peace forever.

Mahmood Riazuddin | December 25, 2007

Murder of great Gulgee is the murder of a culture, art and history. He was not a man, but a history in him. Throughout his life, he played with colours and died in blood colour. The bloody killer succeeded to eliminate his body, but failed to eliminate his repute and identity. Mahmood Riazuddin Islamabad [051-2254991 - 0300-5283060]

naeem saffi | February 25, 2008

i regreatly to say that this is not a murdred of gulgee,this is a murdred ART

nsir malik | March 02, 2008


Bob Brick (Texas) | June 05, 2009

My wife and I just learned of the death of Gulgee, his wonderful wife and their house servant. We add our cry to the many before at this very sad event. Gulgee was our next-door neighbor, dear friend and landlord in KDA before he moved his family to Clifton. A camel sketch of his hand looks down from a prominent wall in our home today. Our lives were and continue to be enriched by knowing this family.

affobhi | July 15, 2010

gulgee u r a gul of our life who gives us fragrant