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Musharraf’s ‘favourite’ painter murdered

Karachi, Dec. 19 (Reuters): Ismail Gulgee, Pakistan’s most prominent artist, was found murdered today with his wife and a maid in their Karachi home, police said. He was 81.

They said the three were found gagged in different rooms of the house, which is in the city’s most upmarket district.

The hands of his wife, Zarina, were tied.

President Pervez Musharraf, who has listed Gulgee as his “all-time favourite” artist on his website (, condemned the killings, state television reported.

“All three were suffocated. This happened around three days ago,” said senior Karachi police officer Asif Ejaz Sheikh.

He said Gulgee’s body was found in the bedroom, his wife’s body in the kitchen and the maid in the main hall. The bodies were found by police after a neighbour complained of a foul smell.

Police said the motive behind the murders was not immediately known and Gulgee’s paintings were still in the house. The artist’s driver, however, was missing, they said.

Born in Peshawar in 1926, Gulgee graduated as an engineer from the US before becoming a self-taught abstract painter. His modern art inspired by Islamic calligraphy won him many awards.

Describing his art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York said on its website ( “Gulgee’s calligraphy paintings are abstract and gestural interpretations of Arabic and Urdu letters. His sweeping layers of paint explore the formal qualities of oil paint while they make references to Islamic design elements.”

Gulgee’s son Amin is a well-known sculptor.

“In these textural works, Gulgee brings the Islamic calligraphy tradition to the modern practice of action painting such as that developed by the American artist Jackson Pollock,” the museum added.

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