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Zahoor Ul Akhlaq

Birth: 1941- 1999


1958-62, National Diploma in Fine Art; National College of Arts - Lahore, Pakistan 1966-67, Post graduate studies: Hornsey college of Arts, London; 1968-69, post graduate studies: Royal College of Arts, London; 1987 -89, post doctoral studies: Fulbright Research Fellowship at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music; Religion and the Arts, Yale University, USA and at Yale School of Arts and Architecture, Yale University.

Biography and Achievements:

Painter, sculptor and printmaker, Zahoor ul Akhlaq's work, standing between tradition and contemporary, consolidates his research into the many visual traditions that criss-cross the political and geographical boundaries of Pakistan. He looks into the discipline of Islamic geometry, the iconography of the Moghul manuscript, and the well-worn genres of European painting as manifest in the British colonial heritage.

As a young child he watched the famed calligrapher Yousaf Dehlavi, a friend of his father's, work in Karachi. Thus a respect for skill and a familiarity with order were internalized at an early age. The uprooting of his family and the migration from Delhi to Karachi at the partitioning of the Indian sub-continent in 1947 also left its emotional scars.

Much of Akhlaq's earlier work has involved an exploration of the canons of art-making in the sub-continent and the inferences which accompanied the advent of Islam in the area. The spatial order is arrived at by moving around a rectangle within a rectangle, suggesting an Imperial 'Firmaan' (decree), the page of a manuscript, or the courtyard in a Mughal palace. The 'inner' and the 'outer' are in dialogue, each a foil for the other; the 'border' and the 'picture' poised in delicate equilibrium.