Zahoor Ul Akhlaq

Painter, sculptor and printmaker, Zahoor ul Akhlaq's work - standing between tradition and contemporaneity - 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, the well-worn genres of European painting as manifest in the British colonial heritage and the complex business of being an artist of today; feeling, recording, communicating. He moves with ease between these different compulsions; his references multiply synthesis, appear and submerge themselves in the discreet handling of his medium. 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. The nostalgia and the sense of separation which underlies Akhlaq's work is gently pervasive. His travels to different parts of the world have reinforced both the 'rooted ness' and the contemporaneity in his work.

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.

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