Gulgee. My work is the externalisation of my inner journey. Through it I communicate with the pulse of life. The Calligraphic form and movement that emerges is not predetermined or cerebral, it is intuitive and articulates something deep inside me. It is important that no thought of how people will react to my work intrudes, as that would destroy the thread and take the truth away. I am enchanted by Islamic calligraphy and feel close to the Sufi mystics. At the mystic level barriers melt away and religious experience whether Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim becomes one. One could call it human experience of the ineffable.
For me the medium of the unknown is space and the calligraphic choreography of my painting is the dance of the dervish. To me the act of painting is the making real of the essential and Yogic experience of life as pure movement. I find it difficult to speak about my paintings because the act of putting together words only explains and cannot make real the experience, which for me, is the ~mly reality, the only value that gives meaning to my life.
Therefore I will end this by adding that I live only when I paint. The rest is but a wait, a preparation mixed with prayer for crossing the threshold-form life into the experience of life.
Eric Gibson, Executive Editor, Art News, New York.
Gulgee’s work is an example of the continuing dialogue between Eastern and Western artistic traditions. The artist is attempting to fuse two traditions, Islamic calligraphy, in which writing both carries a religious text· and decorates a page, and the Western style of Abstract Expressionism, with its movemented brushstrokes. These paintings combine the two traditions with grace and elegance, and at the same time manage to transcend them. The paintings stand as more than the sum of their sources.
Prof. Dr. Annemarie Schimmel, h.c. Mult. H.I., SQA.
Gulgee is no doubt the finest artist in Pakistan, able to capture the finest movement of soul and body in his drawings, highly inventive in his calligraphic paintings, and incredibly skilful in his compositions made of Lapis Lazuli.
Oleg Grabar, Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., U.S.A.
The person is well-known. Often exciting and flamboyant in conversation or in the act of shaping forms out of stones or covering canvases with paint, Gulgee, unlike Picasso and many other lesser artists, has not led a life out of which movies will be made. He was trained as an engineer and even practised engineering for a while. Gulgee’s passion is his art, his passion for making works of art shines through his formal portraits of world celebrities and almost overwhelms the subject….
His oil paints are lavishly spread over his canvases and give to all of them a striking vibrancy a pungency of presence, which belongs to the most powerful effects associated with abstract expressionism.
Howard K. Walker, Ambassador (Retd.) of U.S.A., 2000.
I will never forget the day in 1988 when Gulgee gave me a personal tour of Islamabad’s new, great mosque where I wanted to see his magnificent sculptures on display. I had the sensation of being guided around the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo. When we left the mosque, hundreds of school children on the square just outside ran toward him shouting “Gulgee! Gulgee!”, wanting to touch him and get his autograph. I thought: ‘How wonderful that the children of Pakistan’s capital have such admiration for one of their country’s leading artists, in the way that pop stars are youth heros in some other places’. I understand their affection for this great artist. In the presence of his paintings, one has the multiple and complex impressions of sensual pleasures that emanate from incredible color and mysteriously energetic form, and of quiet, reflective, transcendental, spiritual wisdom.