Celebrating a decade of art, Amin Gulgee unveils his latest work
By: Zahrah Mazhar
KARACHI: It was not only the sculptures at the Amin Gulgee Gallery on Monday that stood tall and invited attention but their creator was also the larger-than-life artist who spoke of his work as it spoke of him.
“My art is how I understand myself and express myself – I don’t go searching for it, it just comes to me,” said sculptor Amin Gulgee, also known for his work in the performing arts.
Gulgee looked very much at home at his namesake gallery while speaking of his latest exhibition, Open Studio V: Through the Looking Glass, which will run till Friday. “It took me three years to complete this series. When I used calligraphy before, it was readable but now it is more deconstructed and the letters speak for themselves,” he explained. “These sculptures speak of love, dance and joy. Look at the tall one, titled The Love Letter – it’s almost as if the letters are reaching up to the skies.”
Made of copper and bronze, some of his pieces solely used Arabic letters, which were intrinsic to each other but were meant to be admired on their own. Among the sculptures that garnered the most admiration from the crowd were the horns made of bronze and ‘Ripping the Bird Cage’, which most referred to as the ‘copper hands’.
An installation, Char-Bagh II: Falling Leaves, which used copper, steel, mirror and sand, and took inspiration from the architecture of gardens in the Mughal era, was displayed in a separate room.
The exhibition also marked the completion of 10 years of the Amin Gulgee Gallery. “This gallery offers a different perspective. The works displayed are usually about breaking new ground,” said the artist.
He recalls only two galleries at the time his father, renowned painter Ismail Gulgee, was working. “Now there are almost 40. They might not be all of high calibre but at least the art scene is flourishing. But we still need patronage for new artists so that their work can be displayed and bought – even an artist has to eat.”
Gulgee offered his own philosophy to all artists – old and new. “Believe in yourself and let the inner voices in your head take you forward.”
As the canapés and drinks endlessly circulated around the gallery, the glitterati of the art world discussed how Gulgee has evolved over the years. “He’s been every diligent and committed to his craft. His work is open to interpretation, animation and controversy,” said Nasreen Askari, curator of Mohatta Palace Museum. “Gulgee’s art is liberated and he is able to reinvent and reinterpret which is an achievement and shows maturity.”
Artist Nahid Raza could not agree more. “He has proved himself over and over in these years and his exhibition today speaks volumes of how mature his work has become,” she said.
Shamim Akhter, editor of the online art magazine Pakistan Art Review, opined that the new exhibition told of Gulgee’s journey in the last 10 years.
“It is such a strong exhibition and really shows Gulgee coming into maturity,” praised art critic Marjorie Husain. “His work is very personal and a reflection of his feelings. Over the years, he has gone through chaos in his life which has brought seriousness to his work.”
Friends and peers, including author Bina Shah, designer Deepak Perwani and actor Adnan Malik, also attended the preview. “It is fantastic to see a friend reach new heights in his career,” said famed photographer, Tapu Javeri. “This exhibition is actually reminiscent of his earlier work, which he hadn’t tapped into commercially. With time, his work only keeps getting better.”