KARACHI, May 28: In remembrance of artist Gulgee and his wife Zaro, the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture held a programme on Wednesday to honour the slain couple in which a documentary on Ismail Gulgee – My Life in … Pictures! – made by Agha Abbas, his nephew, was shown.

The documentary, which was initially made for a private channel, has now been dedicated to the Gulgees and comments of the family have been added to it. The film has a very personalized approach where a sibling of Gulgee, Colonel Nooruddin, has conducted the interview. Agha Abbas is the son of documentary film-maker Agha Sadaruddin, the late brother of Gulgee.

The programme was conducted by Taimur Ahmad, a professor at Indus Valley. He recalled how impressed all the students – including himself – were when Gulgee came to lecture them years ago at the institute. Hafeez Sheikh, Ardeshir Cowasjee, Meher Afroze and the couple’s son Amin Gulgee spoke at the event.

Meher Afroze said Gulgee was a very big name in the world of art and lamented the fact that we have become selfish and do not praise our outstanding people.

Ardeshir Cowasjee, a man of many letters but few words, spoke briefly saying that he knew many famous artists who all had their idiosyncrasies and lived life to the full.

The man who spoke at length, and emotionally, and was on the verge of tears many times, was Hafeez Sheikh, who said he was very close to Gulgee. Speaking softly, he said it was sad that the man with the friendly smile and light in his eyes was not present at the programme. The range and versatility of his contributions in painting, sculpture and calligraphy were astounding. His mastery of colour and strokes and his mosaic work brought him recognition in his lifetime.

Hafeez Sheikh said that Gulgee loved people and was incapable of being malicious towards anyone, perhaps due to the spirituality he had developed over the years. Zaro had a big hand in making him, managing his affairs and being his PR person. In the end, he said that the legacy of Gulgee would continue with Amin Gulgee.

The last speaker, Amin, said he wanted to thank everyone for supporting him in the past trying months.

“My parents were a life force. My relationship with my father was that of a friend, we talked like friends and fought like friends. My father loved his painting; he would dance and sing while painting. He would say, ‘Beta come and watch me,’ and I would say, ‘Aba I’ve watched you paint all my life.’ My mother was a very practical woman. Let us remember them in life, not the way they died.”

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