Ismail Gulgee’s Paintings remain a marvel in history of Art in Pakistan. He initially trained as an engineer and earned degrees from Columbia University and Harvard, USA but his passion for art overcame all other considerations. As a young artist in the 1950s, he was commissioned to paint portraits of the Afghan Royal Family. There he visited a marble plant and noticing the remnants of the chips of marble strewn across the floor, he conceived the idea of working with mosaic patterns. In this context he began to induct marble, then the blues of lapis lazuli in his work.
While famed for his portraiture he yearned to devote his time to experimentation with abstraction. As far back as the 1950s, while engaged in portraiture in Kabul, Ismail Gulgee held his first solo exhibition of non-figurative art in that city. It was to take years before he finally was free to devote himself to the powerful, gestural calligraphic imagery that he described as `emerging from deep within his own psyche.’
Clifton Art Gallery is proud to have these rare master paintings by Ismail Gulgee. His work has been exhibited in many countries and included in many prestigious international collections. He was the recipient of many awards and honors, including the President’s medal for Pride of Performance awarded in 1970, the Sitara-e-Imtiaz 1982, Quaid-e-Azam Award 1988 and the Hilal-e-Imtiaz 1995. Ismail Gulgee’s Paintings remain a marvel in history of Art in Pakistan.