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. The more the author Roger Connah researched, the more versions of a truth emerged. Kwn as the 'painter's painter' within Pakistan, Akhlaq appears to have lived a life so public that it became secret, a critical fiction. A permanently picaresque figure, Akhlaq recalls those Sufi scholars from the ninth and tenth century in Asia. Beginning with an interest in calligraphy, Akhlaq searched for a vibrant cultural practice in contemporary Pakistan. As an artist-wayfarer in and out of cities like Karachi, Delhi, Lahore, Toronto, London, Montreal, Bangkok, Kabul, Teheran, Tokyo, Venice, this book begins to recount a life in flux, a life on the move, a life exploring the traditions of Islam and the dancing order of a Muslim mind. The necessity and urgency to negotiate the invasions and seductions of Modernity produce unusual reversals in his art and contemporary narratives about the society and culture.
Roger Connah is a writer and researcher based in Ruthin, North Wales. He has lived and worked as a university teacher and visiting professor in Finland, Sweden, India and the US. Since 2001, he has been Visiting Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, Department of Architecture. In 2003 he was The Brendan Gill Lecturer, Yale University School of Architecture from which he produced the book How Architecture got its Hump. He started Pulp Architecture with John Maruszczak in 2001 at the University of Texas at Arlington. Besides teaching he has produced and designed books, films and exhibitions over three decades in these various countries.