Taking off from the tragic murder in January 1999 of the Pakistani artist Zahoor ul Akhlaq, the book charts the story of this elusive artist and provides a glimpse into his prolific work. The more the author, Roger Connah, researched, the more versions of a truth emerged. Known within Pakistan as the painter�s painter, Akhlaq appears to have lived a life so public that it became secret, to the extent, as the author explores, his life became a critical fiction.
Beginning with an interest in calligraphy, Akhlaq went on to search, explore and develop ahead of his times a vibrant cultural practice in contemporary Pakistan. A permanently picaresque figure, recalling Sufi scholars from the ninth and tenth century in Asia, he was an artist-wayfarer in and out of cities like Karachi, Delhi, Lahore, Toronto, London, Montreal, Bangkok, Kabul, Tehran, Tokyo, and Venice. This book begins to recount a life in flux, a life on the move, a life exploring the traditions of Islam and the exiles and danced furies, that dancing order, within a Muslim mind. The necessity and urgency of negotiating the invasions and seductions of modernity produces unusual reversals in Akhlaq�s art and within the contemporary narratives about Pakistani society and culture. This is a timely volume which reappraises this artist and the critical fictions made about him, offering an unusual enquiry on society and culture at a time when Pakistan has never been more important.