Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Ismail Gulgee - R.I.P.
Long ago in a time just barely remembered, I packed up a picture for a customer painted by this man. The house was full of many pieces of art and obviously expensive tastes. I was moving this high end family from a posh district of Baltimore to Shaker Heights in the Cleveland area. Dad, a retiring big steel exec, wanted to re-settle back to his childhood homestead. The one with 4 fireplaces and a 5 car garage.
They had a Picasso drawing. They had some beautiful sculptures I had to get creative with so they would travel well. But of all the art pieces I packed and loaded, the painting by this man, Ismail Gulgee, stuck with me. I saved it until last so I could look at it until that final moment when it was placed carefully wrapped into a mirror carton. Mrs. big steel exec even commented about my holding it out. I am sure my interest in it caught her by suprise. A long haired 20 something hippy dude wearing an Atlas Van Lines uniform enthralled by a painting by someone he never heard of. I bet she figured me for velvet Elvis paintings or Paisley acid prints.
I do not remember exactly the subject. Just that it was a portrait and it caught my fancy. This artist had talent. Whoever the Hell he was.
Anyway, Ismail was murdered a short time ago in Pakistan. Along with his wife and maid, apparently they were strangled and left to be discovered by Ismail's son.Ishmail was 81. And though he may not have been cheated of years, his senseless murder becomes one more footnote to add to the mountain of senseless tragic footnotes piling up in Pakistan at the moment. Forgive me if I hope that his death was the result of one of the mundane reasons for murder. Robbery, crime of passion. I hope that the theocratic stupidity that has much of that country in it's grip right now was not the driving force behind this murder.
Back in the early 1970s when I first saw his work, I had no idea who he was, where he came from, or that he would eventually become Pakistan's best known artist. Nor did I care. I only found out through his death the pertinent facts that made him what he was to so many in Pakistan. His ability to weather the tumultuous and often chaotic events that formed modern day Pakistan points to his popularity with all Pakistanis. The man was revered. And now he is dead. What a shame.
Below please enjoy a few photos of some of his life's work.
These images come courtesy of this site