Ghulam Mustafa was born in his grandfather’s house, in the Walled City of Lahore. He has been inspired by this area since then and is emotionally connected to it. Many of his paintings reflect the architectural heritage of the area. There are scenes as seen through the city gates, in Kashmiri Bazaar or from balconies of the area. One can see kites flying, people moving in lanes; some bicycling, some completing their daily routine chores, or puris (fried bread) being made in roadside restaurants. All these symbols reflect life in the culturally rich city of Lahore.
Ghulam Mustafa belongs to the category of eminent painters who are masters in capturing the magnificence of sunlight and shadows with immense detail. He exposes the charms of simple surroundings, usually on large scale canvases. His eyes brilliantly grasp the variegated effects created by sunlight, whether he is walking in the interior of the Walled city, passing in lanes, admiring the blossoming trees, enjoying clear skies, moving in the country side, or travelling in the mountains. He is a prominent artist of the School of Punjab Landscapes, initiated by his teacher Khalid Iqbal.
Besides architecturally rich scenes and remnants of the past, Ghulam Mustafa also paints parks, blossoming trees, rural life and scenes of Murree Hills. A still-life of teapots, cups, glasses and other utensils placed in the shade on a window sill of a tea-hut in the mountains, is as striking as the bright blossoming Amaltas in glorious sunshine. This reflects his ability to paint anywhere without being disturbed by the hustle and bustle of his surroundings. He paints with detail, capturing the viewer attention to a focussed spot – an ability which is the hallmark of a highly skilled and mature painter.
Ghulam Mustafa received the National Prize in the genre of landscape painting at the 7th National Visual Arts Exhibition in 1996. In 2002 he was honoured with the President’s Pride of Performance Award. Besides these awards, he has received numerous honours from various exhibitions, both in Pakistan and abroad. He is the founder of the Artists’ Association of Punjab, where he served as General Secretary and has also previously worked as the Executive Director of the Punjab Arts Council.