Ismail Gulgee was an award-wining, globally famous Pakistani artist born in Peshawar. He was a qualified civil engineer from Aligarh University before heading to Columbia and Harvard Universities, USA, for higher studies. He began to paint while training as an engineer, becoming a self-taught abstract and portrait painter.
He was a gifted and consummately skilled naturalist portrait painter, but is best known worldwide for his abstract work that was inspired by Islamic calligraphy and influenced by the action painting movement of the 1950s and 1960s. He used materials such as mirror, glass and silver or gold leaf in his oil paintings, making them mixed media pieces. His calligraphy paintings are abstract and gestural interpretations of Arabic and Urdu letters. His paintings though bright and colourful, the paint was put on with great sensitivity vibrating with intense feelings. The total effect of his strong brush swirls are free, yet considered and well-thought out.
Gulgee received many awards in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Japan and France. His works are housed in the Faisal Mosque Islamabad, the Presidency and other prestigious venues.