Bonhams to sell picture of Horseman Playing 'Buzkashi' by Pakistani Artist who painted royals

An image of horsemen playing the traditional game of Buzkashi with a headless goat, painted by Ismail Gulgee (Pakistan, 1926-2007), is estimated to sell for £15,000- £25,000 at Bonhams next sale of South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art in London on June 7th.

The painting shows some 17 riders, mainly on grey horses, tussling for possession of a goat.The game of Buzkashi is originally from Afghanistan. Its aim is to pick up the carcass of the beheaded goat or lamb while on horseback and, keeping other riders at bay, gallop down the playing field and pitch the carcass across the goal line. This painting comes from a private collection in the USA.

Pakistan's Ismail Gulgee, known as both a portraitist and painter of Islamic abstract art, was unfortunately murdered in his Karachi home in 2007 along with his wife and maid. It was a great loss to Pakistan and the international art community.

Gulgee, a native of Peshawar, had trained as an engineer in the U.S., studying civil engineering at Columbia and then at Harvard. After his return to Pakistan, Gulgee began painting and became Pakistan's national portrait painter in the 1950s. During this time, he was commissioned by King Zahir Shah on Afghanistan to travel to Kabul and paint his portrait. During his stay, Gulgee explored the region and found his passion for portraying animals, particularly camels and horses.

Gulgee enjoyed government support and many commissions from people throughout the Islamic world, including the Saudi Royal family.

In the 1960s, he began experimenting with abstract painting inspired by Islamic calligraphy and design elements. Primarily known for his colourful abstractions, this earlier work by Gulgee shows his impressionistic style which created the base for his latter works.


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